HEALTH & FITNESS

EYESIGHT
Surya Namaskar: can it damage your eyes?
Dr Mahipal S. Sachdev
I
N the morning I did my Surya Namaskar, only to find immediately after that I was not able to see ahead. This was how a young patient came to my OPD with this scared look.

Health Notes
Coffee in moderation good for heart
LONDON:
Hereís some good news for all those people who canít begin the day without first guzzling a cup or two of coffee, for a new research that contradicts previous studies on the ill-effects of coffee has found that one to three cups of the brew may actually protect people from heart disease.Top









EYESIGHT
Surya Namaskar: can it damage your eyes?
Dr Mahipal S. Sachdev

Surya NamaskarIN the morning I did my Surya Namaskar, only to find immediately after that I was not able to see ahead. This was how a young patient came to my OPD with this scared look.

He told me that whenever he tried to see he could see only black spots. On further questioning, he revealed that while offering his prayers, he looked at the sun as had been explained by elderly knowledgeable people. I suspected solar retinopathy.

My worst fears for my young patient came true when on eye examination the digital fundus fluorescein angiography and optical coherence tomography reports proved that the patient was indeed suffering from solar retinopathy.

What is solar retinopathy?

Solar retinopathy is burning of the retina due to sun gazing.

It is a well-recognised clinical entity of retinal damage caused by direct or indirect viewing of the sun. Other common names of this entity are eclipse retinopathy, solar retinitis, eclipse burns and eclipse blindness. The majority of the cases of solar retinopathy involve eclipse viewing, religious sun-gazers, photographers and even sunbathers.

How does it occur?

When one is looking at the sun, in a normal eye the light gets precisely focused on the central part of the retina, the fovea. The power of our vision is centered in this particular spot, the fovea. The light focused on the retina gets converted into heat over the black cell layer and burns the cells leading to permanent damage. Since the light is focused on the fovea, even a second of sun-gazing is enough to cause permanent damage to the retina.

Normally, when we look at the sun our pupil becomes small and so the amount of light entering the eye is less and our retina is not damaged. But at the time of SURYA NAMASKAR or while looking at the sun during a solar eclipse, the intensity of the sunís light is not that strong, our pupils tend to be larger in size, causing more amount of light to enter our eyes and possibly cause retinal burns and severe damage.

The unfortunate aspect is that there is no pain, but the vision is irrecoverable.

What are the risk factors?

Various factors may determine the severity of retinal lesions and the loss of vision in solar retinopathy. Increased duration of exposure and the lack of protection for solar viewings are the major risk factors.

What are the other symptoms?

Apart from decreased vision, the patient may also experience distortion of vision, a black spot, altered colour vision, after image and headache. In spite of a generally good prognosis, return of vision does not always imply complete recovery as the patient might keep on experiencing any of the above symptoms. Persistent black spots and image distortion may drastically reduce the reading performance in some patients.

What is the prognosis?

Although most cases of solar retinopathy improve over time without treatment, it depends on the severity of lesions .The patients do not completely turn blind, but the impaired quality of vision and persistence of symptoms may hamper their activities

Is there any treatment?

In spite the lack of standardized protocol, corticosteroids and antioxidants are believed to be beneficial in its treatment. Antioxidants may ameliorate retinal injury. Appropriate protective measures while viewing an eclipse and education about the hazards of direct staring are the mainstay in the prevention of this condition.

Is there any way to look at solar eclipse?

Viewing an eclipse through binoculars, sun-glasses, exposed photographic or radiographic film or audio CDís is never safe. Commercial solar filters certified as being safe have been shown to be the only safe method for eclipse observations.

Always remember prevention is better than cure

Donít confuse Surya Namaskar with sun-gazing. Surya Namaskar is not looking at the sun with open eyes, but offering prayers to the powers of Surya or the master source of energy.

Offer your prayers but with caution.

The writer is Chairman and Medical Director, Centre for Sight, New Delhi. E-mail: msachdev@bol.net.in

Top


Health Notes
Coffee in moderation good for heart

LONDON: Hereís some good news for all those people who canít begin the day without first guzzling a cup or two of coffee, for a new research that contradicts previous studies on the ill-effects of coffee has found that one to three cups of the brew may actually protect people from heart disease.

The study, which was part of the Iowa Womenís Health Study that found that up to 60 per cent of antioxidants, that protect cells from damage and reduce the inflammation that encourages arteries to narrow, in the diet may come from coffee, was based on data of 27,000 older women, followed for 15 years.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, a fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said that the study showed that too much coffee like too much alcohol was bad, and that people should drink coffee in moderation. óANI

Exercise and keep skin cancer at bay

WASHINGTON: Exercise has always been seen as the best way to keep fit and healthy, and now a new research on mice has found that it can even protect against skin cancer.

The study was conducted by Rutgers cancer researcher Allan Conney and his New Jersey colleagues.

The researchers found that mice exposed to ultraviolet B light (UVB) óand with continual access to running wheels ó took longer to develop skin tumours and developed fewer and smaller tumours than those who didnít have access to running wheels.

Though in both groups, the number of tumours per mouse increased with time, those with access to running wheels had approximately 32 per cent fewer tumours than the group of mice without running wheels. óANI

Obese means more labour pains

WASHINGTON: Hereís another reason for women not to pile on the pounds while pregnant, for a new study has found that labour can be longer for obese pregnant women.

The study, by a Erin Brousseau, an obstetrics, gynaecology and womenís health resident at Saint Louis University, found that not only do obese women also needed more medication ó a dinoprostone vaginal insert ó to activate labour, but that it also takes them longer to deliver their babies than women of normal body weight.

The study was based on the data collected from a total of 195 patients.

The study showed the need for doctors to tell obese women that electing to have labour induced can place them at higher risk of longer labour, and that it could increase the possibility that they will need a cesarean section. óANI

Surgery helps even if breast cancer spreads

WASHINGTON: Surgery greatly increases a patientís chances of surviving with breast cancer, even if the cancer has spread by the time a woman is diagnosed, Swiss researchers reported.

Although many women around the world are simply offered what is known as palliative care, to help them live a little longer and make them comfortable while they wait to die, surgery could help them live much longer, the researchers found.

"Based on these findings, we believe that it is time to take a hard look at the current standard of care for breast cancer patients initially diagnosed with metastatic disease," said Dr Elisabetta Rapiti of the Geneva Cancer Registry at the University of Geneva, who led the study.

Among women whose cancer had spread only to the bone, those who had successful surgery were 80 per cent more likely to be alive five years after diagnosis than women who did not have surgery. óReuters

HOME PAGE

Top