Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Good, The Bad, And The Visually Acceptable

During consideration of having LASIK - Laser Vision Correction, each patient must weigh the benefits and risks of having such a procedure. It is essential that patients understand potential risks associated with the LASIK procedure. Although, it has received FDA approval and is considered to be safe, there is risk of having a serious vision-threatening complication. While approximately 1% of patients have complications with their LASIK procedure, even fewer experience a serious flap related complication. LASIK is an extremely effective procedure that is suitable for high, moderate or low prescriptions.
Complications can occur due to the Laser component of the procedure or the Keratectomy step of the procedure. There have been no reported cases of blindness following either PRK or LASIK, anywhere around the world.
Undercorrection, is when the intended amount of laser correction is not obtained during the primary procedure. In extreme cases of undercorrection, after stabilization, an enhancement may be necessary to obtain optimum results. Undercorrection can result from a number of factors: the healing response of the eye, the hydration of the cornea during treatment, the laser's calibration, or temperature and humidity. Often time undercorrection is deliberately induced to create a monovision effect.
Overcorrection occurs when the desired treatment is exceeded, this causes an eye to become farsighted. Often this condition will correct itself, as the cornea tends to bounce back somewhat towards its original shape following the procedure. However, should the patient remain hyperopic (farsighted), it is possible to perform an enhancement to obtain the desired correction.
Corneal haze occurs in the normal healing process of the cornea; however for most patients (95% +) it does not affect their vision. The haze is actually caused by a collagen protein that has developed on the surface of the eye. For those patients who do develop haze, it usually clears gradually over many months following the procedure.
People may experience poor night vision, night glare, haloes and starbursts even before having vision correction by laser. Night glare is common immediately following the LASIK procedure and typically last for a short period of time; however, it is important that you discuss your pupil size with your physician. Patients with large pupils when dilated are at a higher risk of having decreased night vision.
Although the risk of infection is rare, it is probably the greatest risk during the first 48 to 72 hours following LASIK. Because of the potential dangers resulting from infection, antibiotic drops are dispensed both before and after the procedure.
Another complication involves a non-infectious infiltrate developing beneath the flap. A cloudy accumulation of inflammatory cells gives the appearance of swirling sand and has been dubbed "Sands of the Sahara". The cause is unclear; however, it can be successfully treated by the use of topical steroid eye drops or lifting the flap to remove the debris.
Some patients find their best vision after LASIK not as good as with their glasses or contacts. This is called a loss of best corrected visual acuity. The final result depends not only the procedure but how a patient heals. Healing determines the speed of visual recovery, the sharpness of vision and the need for enhancement. As the degree of correction increases, the importance of healing to the final visual outcome also increases.
Blindness is the number one concern of all patients considering LASIK. In surgery, as in life, anything is possible; however, there has not been a reported case of permanent blindness occurring after LASIK surgery.
A major component of LASIK surgery is the creation of the corneal flap (keratectomy). The first complication associated with the keratectomy is an incomplete flap, which can be caused by an obstructed microkeratome. Second is a thin flap, which occurs if there is a loss of suction. These types of complications will not affect the final outcome; however, it can prolong the recovery process sometimes leading to a secondary procedure to complete the correction.
Another complication resulting from the keratectomy is a "free cap". A free cap occurs when the flap is cut completely across the cornea leaving no connecting tissue. Although this is considered a complication, LASIK was originally performed without a hinge. This condition is manageable by the surgeon, and excellent vision can still be achieved.
LASIK dramatically reduces your recovery time and decreases the chance of many of the procedural risks, as opposed to RK. The procedure takes only a few minutes to complete and entails minimal discomfort. LASIK requires more technical skill and training than other laser procedures.
The number of people considering refractive surgery is at an all time high and LASIK is considered by virtually all refractive surgeons to be the procedure of choice today.
Experience has shown us that vision correction using the excimer laser has been overwhelmingly successful in reducing myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. While vision improves following the procedure, the degree of improvement may vary with each individual. Overall, 98% of typical patients achieve 20/40 vision or better after one procedure allowing them to drive legally, play sports, and join the police or fire departments. Patients may receive a second enhancement procedure to further improve their results if their vision is below legal driving levels. Generally, there is a 10% chance that a patient will require an enhancement procedure. This chance is less in patients with mild myopia (approximately 5% chance) and greater in patients with extreme myopia (approximately 20% chance).

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Prevent Suicide Now

A website called Prevent Suicide Now.Com recently came to my attention by chance. I almost sent it back into cyber obscurity with a mouse click as it seemed unlikely to be of any interest or use to me in my carefree home business programme.
My first thought was that a website dedicated to suicide must be macabre. However, a tour of the website revealed that a great deal of loving work had gone into its creation. The site's purpose is to prevent suicide and raise public awareness of the subject. In America alone over 31,000 lives ended in 2002 as a result of suicide. That is one suicide every sixteen and a half minutes. Trends show the suicide rate to be increasing.
There is a touching remembrance section on the site. The first memorial on the "wall of angels" is to a little girl aged 13 who was driven to suicide by school bullies. I could hardly bear to look at the photographs of the other beautiful, bright children who became "angels" in their teenage years. In the year 2002 in America a total of 4,010 people below the age of 24 committed suicide. That equates to 11 young lives destroyed each day. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in the 15-24 age group.
Suicide is a subject which most of us would wish to avoid. We would rather not think about it, let alone discuss it. We are uncomfortable when dealing with people who have been bereaved through suicide and feel helpless when somebody we know is tormented by suicidal thoughts.
Our reluctance to contemplate the issue of suicide is understandable. It is painful and we don't want to be reminded of our own mortality, but we would be better equipped to deal with the issue if we were brave enough to face suicide and become familiar with its features. The ability to recognise the enemy would give us a better chance of knowing when help should be sought.
Seeing the photographs of the young suicide victims reminded me of two young women I used to know but had not thought of for some time. I was friends with both these women but they never met each other. Their lives, however, strangely paralleled each other for a while when they reached the age of 25.
My friend Janet had been engaged for two years and was looking forward to a traditional white wedding. The wedding dress and cake had been made and the big day was only two weeks in the future when her fiancé abruptly broke off the engagement. She was quietly devastated. Janet was a warm person with a wonderful sense of humour but she was not a pretty girl - not ugly - just not a head turner and she was rather shy. Being jilted shattered her self-confidence and she suffered through several lonely years before finding another boyfriend. He treated her abysmally but she felt that it was better to put up with his behaviour than to face the loneliness of being single. By then Janet was approaching the dreaded 30th birthday and felt like everybody else in the world was married. I was relieved when she finally found the courage to end that relationship.
My other friend was Cathy. Like Janet, she was jilted only a couple of weeks before her wedding was due to take place; with impeccable timing her fiancé chose to dump her on the very day her wedding dress was delivered. Cathy was a charming, sweet girl but, unlike Janet, she was also extremely pretty and outgoing. Cathy had many friends and, with her good looks and bubbly character, was very attractive to men. She bounced back from the rejection and had a new suitor within a matter of months. I thought her new boyfriend was much nicer in every way than the former fiancé and that the jilting had been a blessing in disguise.
The last time I spoke to Janet she was blissfully happy. She had met and married a lovely man and was living by the coast with him and their two gorgeous children. Cathy never married; she hanged herself at the age of 26. We were all utterly shocked: we had not realised that Cathy was hiding deep depression behind her pretty smile.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Magic of Pain Free Good Health

Has the use of aromas and herbs, only recently been appreciated for their healing, and recuperative qualities? Most certainly not.
Aromas had been used for medicinal, spiritual, and magical purposes going back as far back as Egyptian times 3000 B.C. Even further back in time 5000 B.C. the Tassili cave paintings showed women wearing fragrant flower garlands. There are frequent mentions of the use of potions throughout history - Pliny the 1st century Roman historian, mentions in his Natural History narrative, 32 remedies prepared from roses, 21 from lilies, 17 from violets, and 25 from pennyroyal. Ancient Indian cultures used sandalwood for genito-urinary infections.
Nostradamus, at the age of 21 received a licence, having studied in Montpellier France, to practise medicine. One of the formulae which he used as a remedy for several conditions, has survived to this day, and was compounded of rose petals, cloves, lignum aloes, and the dried roots of iris and sweet flag.
The ancient Greeks also contributed to the origins of herbal medicine. Dioscorides, a military doctor was the author of De Materia Medica a book on herbal medicine, which was the foundation of all subsequent books for a further 1600 years. Galen another Greek doctor also wrote a major book on herbal medicine De Simplicibus in the 2nd century which was used up to the middle ages by the Islamic physicians.
The word of herbalism was carried to Europe via the crusaders, and the texts were translated into Latin, which when printing was developed, the information became more widespread, though only if you could read. So herbal folklore passed on from generation to generation, by word of mouth. In the 16th century John Gerard published in 1597 the "Herbal or General Historie of Plantes". He had been greatly influenced by the great medical scholar Paracelsus.
Now in recent time the medical fraternity is becoming aware of the benefits of some of these ancient methods, and in the United Kingdom some areas are becoming available on the National Health System.