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November 18th, 2013
09:18 AM ET

Long-term Pill use may double glaucoma risk

Women who used birth control pills for three years or more have twice the risk of developing glaucoma later in life, according to new research.

Glaucoma is a disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve and is a leading cause of blindness in the United States.

It’s been well documented that low-estrogen levels following menopause contribute to glaucoma in women. Scientists don’t know exactly why this happens.  But years of using birth control pills, which can also lower estrogen levels, may add to the problem.

The study, conducted by researchers at University of California, San Francisco, Duke University School of Medicine and Third Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, Nanchang, China, did not differentiate between women who took low-estrogen or regular birth control pills. Investigators theorize that when women are not on the pill, their natural estrogen levels go up and down, which seems to prevent the eye from developing glaucoma.  When women go on the pill, their estrogen levels are consistent, and in some cases consistently low, which could cause them to develop the condition.

This research project is the first to suggest an increased risk of glaucoma in women who have used oral contraceptives for three or more years. The researchers looked at data on more than 3,400 women aged 40 and older from across the United States, who answered questionnaires about their reproductive health and eye exams.    FULL POST


Half of us may be able to see without light
"What I saw was a blur," study participant Lindsay Bronnenkant said. "It was almost like I was looking at a light source."
October 31st, 2013
12:04 PM ET

Half of us may be able to see without light

Wave your hand slowly in front of your face.

Did your eyes track the movement? If so, your brain has formed a memory of that action; it will remember what the motion looks like in case you ever do it again.

In fact, a new study suggests that even if you wave your hand in front of your face in total darkness, your eyes may "see" it simply because they've seen it before. FULL POST


Researchers urge eye screening as early as age 1
Wanda Pfeifer uses a special purpose camera to screen children for amblyopia, also known as "lazy eye."
February 12th, 2013
11:53 AM ET

Researchers urge eye screening as early as age 1

How many times have you seen a young child with a patch over one eye or wearing glasses with one lens blocked and wondered why?  Chances are that child has something called amblyopia (sometimes called "lazy eye"), where one eye is not being used by the brain because it doesn't see as well.

After looking at more than 10 years of data, researchers now say children as young as a year old can be reliably screened for amblyopia; by using a camera that takes pictures of the eye, symptoms of the condition can be detected long before it becomes apparent, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

The goal is to identify children with this problem as early as possible, says lead study author Dr. Susannah Longmuir, "so we can start treatment before they have a problem or treat it before it gets worse."

FULL POST


The real reason Mary Ingalls went blind
Melissa Sue Anderson, right, portrayed Mary Ingalls in the 1970s NBC TV show "Little House on the Prairie."
February 4th, 2013
10:47 AM ET

The real reason Mary Ingalls went blind

If you watched "Little House on the Prairie," chances are you remember the story of Mary Ingalls.

The television show and popular book series drew on the real-life experiences of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Mary, Laura's sister, went blind as a teenager after contracting scarlet fever, according to the story. Now a team of medical researchers are raising questions about whether that's true.

Dr. Beth Tarini, one of the co-authors of the paper, became intrigued by the question as a medical student.

"I was in my pediatrics rotation. We were talking about scarlet fever, and I said, 'Oh, scarlet fever makes you go blind. Mary Ingalls went blind from it,'" recalls Tarini, who is now an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan. My supervisor said, "I don't think so."

Tarini started doing research. Over the course of 10 years, she and her team of researchers, pored over old papers and letters written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, local newspaper accounts of Mary's illness and epidemiological data on blindness and infectious disease in the late 19th century. What they found was intriguing.

FULL POST


Children's headaches rarely linked to vision problems
November 12th, 2012
09:02 AM ET

Children's headaches rarely linked to vision problems

If your child gets recurring headaches and you think they might need glasses, you may be mistaken - a new study says children's headaches are rarely triggered by vision problems.

The study, presented Monday at the American Academy of Ophthalmology's annual meeting, was conducted by researchers at the ophthalmology clinic of Albany Medical Center in New York. They evaluated medical records of nearly 160 children under the age of 18 who were being seen at the clinic for frequent headaches.

FULL POST


October 17th, 2012
07:36 AM ET

Drum Major hopes to change perception of visually impaired

Editor's note: In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship – they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessed. This week, Dr. Sanjay Gupta introduces us to 22-year-old college senior Paul Heddings, who leads one of the largest college marching bands in the United States.

September 7, 2007, is a day I will never forget.

That was the day I learned my life was going to change forever. I was 17 years old and leading a typical high school life in Carrollton, Missouri.

I loved sports, especially playing on my high school’s baseball team. I was also very invested in extracurricular activities like band, show choir and speech/debate.  I thought I had my life planned out before me when that day in September happened.

I went to the eye doctor thinking I needed a new contact lens prescription and instead was sent to the emergency room to undergo the first of several invasive surgeries.
FULL POST


What the Yuck: I'm seeing brown specks
January 29th, 2012
09:17 AM ET

What the Yuck: I'm seeing brown specks

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

Q: Sometimes I see little brown specks floating in my field of vision. Should I be worried?

A: Those squiggly, dark lines and spots are called "eye floaters." They are typically caused by age-related changes in the vitreous humor, the jelly-like substance that fills most of the eyeball.

Floaters are common and usually nothing to worry about.

If you start having them while seeing flashes of light, though, or suddenly get a bunch at once, see an ophthalmologist right away - you could have a tear in your retina, which may lead to vision loss if not treated ASAP.


October 19th, 2011
11:42 AM ET

Can Avastin use in macular degenration cause blindness?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Wednesdays, it's Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society.

Asked by Rosamond, from Philadelphia

I have wet macular degeneration that is being "successfully" treated with Avastin. Please comment on reports of blindness related to this treatment. Many thanks!

FULL POST


Learning to see: How vision sharpens
September 19th, 2011
09:12 AM ET

Learning to see: How vision sharpens

Editor's Note: Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang are the authors of Welcome to Your Child's Brain, a guide to what's really going on in the mind from conception to college.

Babies are born nearly blind. You may think that your newborn is gazing into your eyes, but what she actually sees is a vaguely face-shaped blur, associated with loving sounds and possibly milk. How she develops mature vision is mostly automatic, requiring involvement from you only at a few key points.

Though vision feels seamless, the brain constructs its image of the world from neural activity in dozens of interconnected regions that specialize in particular aspects of seeing. All these cortical areas are immature at birth, so babies’ acuity starts out forty times worse than adults’ and doesn’t become equal until four to six years of age. Indeed, an adult who could see as well as a newborn would have 20/600 vision.

FULL POST


What the Yuck: Will staring at a computer make me blind?
August 26th, 2011
07:31 AM ET

What the Yuck: Will staring at a computer make me blind?

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

I stare at my computer for at least 14 hours a day. Am I going to go blind?

Staring at a computer screen can certainly cause eyestrain and fatigue, but you won't go blind. Instead, your eyes may feel tired or you may get eye pain or headaches. And of course, squinting may lead to wrinkles.
FULL POST


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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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