HEALTH & FITNESS

Flashes of light can signal danger to the eyes
Dr R. Kumar
Satwant, 58, barged into his eye specialist’s chamber in panic and narrated hysterically, “Doctor, I can see flashes of light on the upper and outer side of my left eye. The flashes became more pronounced when I switched off the light. I can also see some hair like wavy objects moving in front of my eyes. I have tried to remove these floaters from my field but I couldn’t catch them. Can you help me to get rid of this nuisance? Can you save my vision? Can it lead to blindness? Can I get MRI scan of the brain before you examine? Will you give me spectacles of higher power to have light-flashes-free vision? Will it require surgery? Can’t you manage it with eye drops or some injections? How can it happen to me when I have been consuming large amounts of carrots and vitamin A regularly?”

Managing prostate enlargement
Dr R. Vatsyayan
A part of the male reproductive system, the prostate is a walnut-size gland located in front of the rectum and just below the urinary bladder. Made of two lobes and enclosed by an outer layer, the prostate carries the urethra or the canal through which the urine passes out right in the middle of it. Fluid in the semen that nourishes the sperms is produced in the prostate and it squeezes and expels it out during the sexual orgasm.

 

 

Top







Flashes of light can signal danger to the eyes
Dr R. Kumar

Satwant, 58, barged into his eye specialist’s chamber in panic and narrated hysterically, “Doctor, I can see flashes of light on the upper and outer side of my left eye. The flashes became more pronounced when I switched off the light. I can also see some hair like wavy objects moving in front of my eyes. I have tried to remove these floaters from my field but I couldn’t catch them. Can you help me to get rid of this nuisance? Can you save my vision? Can it lead to blindness? Can I get MRI scan of the brain before you examine? Will you give me spectacles of higher power to have light-flashes-free vision? Will it require surgery? Can’t you manage it with eye drops or some injections? How can it happen to me when I have been consuming large amounts of carrots and vitamin A regularly?”

The doctor tried to calm him down by saying, “Let us have a look at your retina after dilating the pupils. It may have something to do with vitreous detachment or retinal tear. Flashes alert you of some wrong happening in the retina since you can’t experience the sensation of pain in the retina.

What is vitreous?

The vitreous is a gel that maintains the shape of eye, supplies it with nutrition and helps with the focusing of light. The retina is a thin membrane located in the back side of the eye, adhered to the wall of the eye like “wallpaper” and it acts like the film of a camera, capturing the image that will be transmitted to the brain through the optic nerve. Eye flashes happen when the vitreous gel in the eye rubs on the retina. However, eye flashes can also be triggered due to retinal tear/disease, head trauma or exposure to chemicals or migraine. But light flashes associated with a migraine are different since these have shapes and colours and last longer and has headache associated with it.

Why flashes of light?

Aging is one of the main causes of eye flashes as well as floaters. It can be due to posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) due to age-related liquefaction and separation from the retina. Also when the retina is torn or detached from the back of the eye, a flash or flicker of light is commonly noticed. Depending on the extent of the tear or detachment, these flashes of light might be short-lived or continue indefinitely until the retina is repaired. All cases of light flashes should be examined by an eye specialist at the earliest. The precaution during PVD includes avoiding lifting heavy weights, bending forward and jerks to the head.

Treatment for flashes and floaters

Most eye floaters and flashes of light may be harmless and merely annoying when due to PVD. Many will fade over time and become less bothersome. The PVD process can complete within four-six weeks or more and after that the flashes subside. Occasionally, while the PVD is taking place, breaks or tears develop in the retina as a consequence of the vitreous pulling from it while trying to detach. Untreated retinal tears can lead to the development of a retinal detachment, a potentially blinding condition that requires surgery.

Some patients, especially myopic, can suffer from floaters for years and they can find it difficult to know when to consult the specialist. The logical advice is to always contact when in doubt or certainly if you develop new floaters, old floaters become more intrusive or are accompanied by flashing lights. Patients experiencing flashing lights without floaters should also seek prompt consultation.

How is retinal break or tear treated?

A retinal break or tear can be treated by laser as an outpatient procedure. This procedure creates an adhesion between the retina and the underlying tissue by forming a scar tissue. This scar tissue prevents the seepage of liquid vitreous under the retina and thus prevents retinal detachment. Once the retina detaches, it must be operated upon on an urgent basis to reattach the retina. If operated early, the results are generally good with significant gain in vision. A delay in surgery decreases the chances of success.

The writer is a senior eye specialist based in Chandigarh. Email: [email protected]

Top

Managing prostate enlargement
Dr R. Vatsyayan

A part of the male reproductive system, the prostate is a walnut-size gland located in front of the rectum and just below the urinary bladder. Made of two lobes and enclosed by an outer layer, the prostate carries the urethra or the canal through which the urine passes out right in the middle of it. Fluid in the semen that nourishes the sperms is produced in the prostate and it squeezes and expels it out during the sexual orgasm.

Though the prostate goes on getting bigger in size during the most of a man’s lifespan, this enlargement doesn’t usually cause problems until late in life. As the prostate enlarges and when the outer layer of tissues surrounding it stops it from expanding, the gland starts pressing the urethra like a clamp. The narrowing of the urethra and obstruction in the smooth emptying of the bladder makes it irritable even when it contains a small amount of urine causing more frequent urge of urination. Medically, this condition is called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH and it also has references in ancient Ayurvedic texts where it is described as “ashtheela”.

There are many viewpoints discussing the reasons leading to prostate enlargement, but it is only the aging which has been identified with certainty to be its cause. It is seen that nearly half of the men who are in their 50’s start getting some sort of symptoms related to prostate enlargement, and in the age group of 80 or more, nearly 90 per cent of men complain of symptoms related to BPH. Though BPH, unlike prostate cancer, is not a life-threatening disease, it definitely affects the quality of life of the patient.

Starting with the need to get up more often at night to urinate, the onset of BPH is gradual. As the gland grows bigger, it starts putting pressure on the urethra and the bladder, and the patient starts experiencing increased urgency to urinate during daytime also. With difficulty in starting the urine flow, the size and strength of its stream decreases. The patient may dribble after finishing and he is often left with a feeling that the bladder is not completely emptied. In severe cases, the patient has to wait for more than normal time to rearrange himself after he goes to toilet. Many times chronic prostate enlargement is accompanied by urinary tract infection which is recurrent in nature.

It is generally seen that the size of the prostate is not always the only factor to determine how severe the obstruction or the symptoms will be. Many times a sufficiently enlarged prostate poses little obstruction whereas men whose gland is less enlarged have more blockage and greater problems. A few decongestant medicines used for common cold which are generally sold over the counter are known to interfere with the opening up of the bladder and allowing the urine to pass. Extreme hot or cold weather conditions, a particularly unsuitable diet and continuous sitting for a long period or immobility can also trigger urinary incontinency in many people.

Several tests help the doctor identify the problem and decide on the best line of treatment. A digital rectal examination gives a general idea of the size and condition of the prostate. An ultrasound examination determines its exact size and the amount of post-void urine in the bladder. A urine flow study and blood test for the prostate-specific-antigen (PSA) and in some cases many other advance tests to rule out prostatic malignancy may be required.

Experts believe that unless symptoms are troubling, an enlarged prostate requires no treatment at all. Sometimes the symptoms may lessen without any treatment, but a wait and watch policy is adopted where the patient is examined periodically and the status of prostate is ascertained. However, if symptoms of BPH are bothersome or are affecting the urinary tract, treatment must be given. In mild-to-moderate cases, oral medicines do well but surgery emerges as an option when the symptoms are too severe.

Initially, some lifestyle changes can help control the symptoms of an enlarged prostate and prevent the condition from worsening. Patients of BPH should always try to adopt a balanced but active lifestyle. They should urinate when they get the urge and sometimes urinating again a little later called double voiding relieves the patient in a better way. Avoiding taking anything liquid one or two hours before bedtime helps prevent the wake-up trips to the bathroom and the consumption of alcohol, caffeine and tea should be reduced to the minimum. Constipation is another irritant in the BPH condition, and care should be taken to adopt the diet which is light and easy to digest.

The writer is a Ludhiana-based senior ayurvedic physician and Guru at the Rashtriya Ayurveda Vidyapeeth.

Top

Health Notes

New nanoparticle fools immune system to halt multiple sclerosis

London: A biodegradable nanoparticle was used to stealthily deliver an antigen that tricks the immune system into stopping its attack on myelin and halt a model of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) in mice, according to new Northwestern Medicine research. The new nanotechnology also can be applied to a variety of immune-mediated diseases including Type 1 diabetes, food allergies and airway allergies such as asthma. In MS, the immune system attacks the myelin membrane that insulates nerves cells in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. When the insulation is destroyed, electrical signals can’t be effectively conducted, resulting in symptoms that range from mild limb numbness to paralysis or blindness. About 80 per cent of MS patients are diagnosed with the relapsing remitting form of the disease. — ANI

Nose cell transplant lets paralysed dogs walk again

London: Paralysed dogs began to walk again after they were injected with cells grown from the lining of their nose, according to Cambridge University scientists. The pets had all suffered spinal injuries, which prevented them from using their back legs. The team hopes that the technique could eventually have a role in the treatment of human patients, the BBC reported. The study, which has been published in the neurology journal Brain, is also the first to test the transplant in “real-life” injuries rather than laboratory animals. — ANI

‘Cancer-promoting’ protein holds promise for Alzheimer’s

London: Danish scientists have found that a “harmful” protein that is known to spread cancer cells around the body could hold the key to allowing the brain to repair itself. The finding is a potentially significant breakthrough in the treatment of severe brain injuries and could help those suffering from neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, said the scientists at the University of Copenhagen. They found that the protein S100A4 plays a crucial role in brain protection and repair. Scientists have known the protein as a key factor in metastasis, or the spread of cancer. It is not found in the brains of healthy individuals. — ANI

Exact cause of depression revealed

London: A team of scientists has provided insight into the causes of severe brain disorders such as depression. In organisms as complex as humans, the neural mechanisms that help answer the question, “Is it worth my effort?” can fail, leading to debilitating mental illnesses. Major depressive disorder, for instance, which affects nearly 20 per cent of people at some point in life, is correlated with underperformance in the parts of the brain involved in motivation. But Karl Deisseroth, a professor of bioengineering and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, and postdoctoral scholar Melissa Warden, have struggled to work out the exact cause and effect. — ANI

Top

HOME PAGE