Friday, December 12, 2008

Honey adds health benefits, is natural preservative and sweetener in salad dressings

...Antioxidant-rich honey is a healthy alternative to chemical additives and refined sweeteners in commercial salad dressings...

Nearly 12 percent of children use alternatives to traditional medicine, research suggests.

From AOA FirstLook:

The Washington Post (12/11, A2, Stein) reports, "More than one-third of U.S. adults and nearly 12 percent of children use alternatives to traditional medicine," according to a report titled, Complementary and Alternative Medicine use Among Adults and Children: United States, 2007, which was issued by the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Investigators at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics conducted the "survey of 23,300 adults and 9,400 part of a broader ongoing study." The researchers "found that use of yoga, 'probiotics,' fish oil, and other 'complementary and alternative' therapies held steady among adults since the last national survey five years earlier, and that such treatments have become part of healthcare for many youngsters."
Children "are five times as likely to try unconventional therapies if their parents also use them,"
USA Today (12/11, Szabo) adds. Typically, "children used these therapies...for back or neck pain, colds, anxiety or stress, other muscle and skeletal problems, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, the study shows." They are also "more likely to use complementary and alternative therapies if they see the doctor a lot and if they have ongoing medical problems," or "when their family has to delay or forsake conventional medical care because of cost." Researchers also found that "unconventional care is...more popular among teens, whites, and those with private insurance and well-educated parents."
AP (12/11) reports that "fish oil for hyperactivity," eye protection, and heart disease, "and echinacea for colds were the most popular supplements, although there's no proof such treatments work for those conditions, nor have they been tested in kids." Richard Nahin, of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, "cited the lack of rigorous scientific testing in declining to call such widespread use harmful or beneficial." He also pointed out that, "unlike federally regulated medicines, herbal remedies don't have to be proven safe or effective to be sold," and that "studies that have been done on them have focused on adults, not children." The AP also notes that, according to one expert, "some doctors are troubled that parents may be giving children alternative therapies in place of proven clinical treatments."
HealthDay (12/10, Reinberg) explained that "complementary and alternative medicine -- sometimes called CAM -- is an umbrella term for a collection of wide-ranging medical and healthcare systems, practices, and products that aren't generally considered conventional medicine. It includes herbal supplements, meditation, chiropractic treatment, and acupuncture." While "most techniques, such as acupuncture, massage, and yoga, are safe," certain "herbal supplements may interfere with conventional medications," Nahin said.

Patching vs Atropine to Treat Amblyopia in Children Aged 7 to 12 Years

...Treatment with atropine or patching led to similar degrees of improvement among 7- to 12-year-olds with moderate amblyopia. About 1 in 5 achieved visual acuity of 20/25 or better in the amblyopic eye. ..

Comments: We should use all the tools available to us when treating our patients...and age should not stop you from treating a patient!!! DM

Anti-Stress Drug?

...In a small test on rats that were put under stressful conditions, researchers found exposing them to a small dose of muscimol -- a drug that temporarily inactivates the amygdala region of the brain -- eliminated the effects of stress completely....

Comments: we should use Ritalin to make folks smarter and muscimol to ease the affects of stress....what ever happened to "hard work" to get smarter....and using appropriate behavioral coping mechanisms for stress? Do we need a pill for everything? DM

Falls and Car Accidents Cause Most Injuries in U.S. Children

...Through the first half of this decade, about 9.2 million kids younger than 20 visited an emergency department for an unintentional injury and about 12,175 died each year, according to a report by the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control...

Video Games May Improve Cognition in the Older Population

...Nearly two dozen hours of playing a strategic video game over several weeks led to increased performance on four out of six tests of executive function...

Comments: The benefits of neuroplasticy are available to us at any age. Me? I'm gonna get me a Wii DM

Study compares eye drops to patch therapy for treatment of amblyopia

From AOA FirstLook:

In the New York Times Well blog, Tara Parker-Pope wrote that a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology "compares patch therapy for amblyopia with...a weekly regimen of medicated eye drops that essentially work as a patch by blurring vision in the stronger eye." Mitchell M. Scheiman, O.D., FCOVD, of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in Philadelphia, and colleagues, conducted a "randomized study of nearly 200 children," and found that "giving the eye drops on the weekend worked about as well as wearing a patch for two hours a day." The eye drops, which contain atropine, "work by preventing a muscle in the stronger eye from constricting. As a result, when a child tries to read or focus on something close, the good eye is blurred." The child's "weaker eye" is forced "to focus and work harder, which helps it strengthen over time."

Maintaining Brain's Wiring In Aging And Disease

....researchers...have discovered that the brain's circuitry survives longer than previously thought in diseases of ageing such as Alzheimer's disease....

Childcare is bad for babies

...Parents and governments are taking a "high-stakes gamble" with the long-term wellbeing of children by subjecting them to long hours of formal childcare from a very young age, according to a Unicef report....The study ... recommends that all children should where possible be cared for by parents at home during the first 12 months of life. ...

Low-carb diets can affect dieters' cognition skills

...when dieters eliminate carbohydrates from their meals, they performed more poorly on memory-based tasks than when they reduce calories, but maintain carbohydrates. When carbohydrates were reintroduced, cognition skills returned to normal....

Spelling performance of visually impaired adults

...Blind or severely visually impaired subjects who used braille frequently seem to perform better at spelling compared to those who rely on other media. Adults with low vision who use magnifying lenses frequently seem to make more spelling mistakes than those who use braille, large print, CCTV or the computer (screen-reading or screen-magnification software). ...

Stereopsis in children with unilateral pseudophakia

...Stereopsis was better in children with later manifesting cataracts, absence of strabismus and in cases with a good postoperative visual acuity. The postoperative visual acuity was the most important factor affecting the outcome of stereopsis in children with unilateral pseudophakia.

Central corneal thickness in children with congenital cataract and children with surgical aphakia

...Aphakic eyes due to congenital cataract show thicker corneas than normal phakic eyes. Aphakic eyes after congenital cataract extraction show thicker corneas than eyes with congenital cataracts, suggesting that the increase in CCT occurs postoperatively....

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Review of Speed Reading Programs

...Speed reading is the ability to read at high speeds. Most people read from 200 to 300 words per minute. Speed readers can read 600 to 2500 words per minute. Some web sites claim speeds of 10,000 words per minute or more. The speed reading concept has been around a long time but new software makes it easier and faster to learn at home. ....With speed reading software you have an interactive experience which makes learning easier. When attempting to learn speed reading from a book or audio CD, you have to time yourself as you read passages. Software programs do the timing for you which is much more accurate and much much easier...

Comments: This website reviews several speed reading programs. I'm familar with one or two of these programs....but have not used any of them for my patients. If you've used them let me know how they have worked out for you and your patients. DM

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

VT computer Program

...York University researchers have designed a computer game that corrects a common vision problem more effectively than conventional, “boring” therapies.... The game, a 3-D version of Pac Man, helps patients with a condition called convergence insufficiency learn to align their eyes.... The disorder can cause headaches, blurred or double vision, eye strain, and reading problems. It affects up to five percent of the population, and is typically treated with exercises requiring repeated convergence of the eyes....

Comments: The research was done in partnership with the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry, where the author is an adjunct professor. The University of Waterloo School of Optometry has outstanding faculty, clinicians, researchers and students. In the recent past however, they have not had a strong presence in the area of diagnosing and treating binocular vision disorders. I don't remember the last time I saw a faculty member at a COVD meeting...perhaps this will change. Hopefully, this will be one of many studies either conducted at or in cooperation with the U of W School of Optometry. The full study/paper was not readily available since this was in proceedings of the August, Virtual Rehabilitation 2008 international conference. It sounds more like a pilot study...they did not mention a control group....I will see if I can get a copy of the study and let you know what was done if I can. DM

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

New Screening Halves The Number Of Children Born With Down's Syndrome

..A new national screening strategy in Denmark has halved the number of infants born with Down's syndrome and increased the number of infants diagnosed before birth by 30%, according to a study published on today. ...the number of infants born with Down's syndrome decreased from 55-65 per year during 2000-4, to 31 in 2005 and 32 in 2006. The ...

How To Choose Age Appropriate And Safe Toys For Children During The Holidays

...Drowning, suffocation, strangulation, and riding toy accidents (such as when a child is hit by a motor vehicle while riding a toy, or when the child rides a toy into a body of water) are other causes of toy-related deaths....

Comment: Make sure all toys are age appropriate. Watch little ones when playing with the older kids toys. Be careful. Be safe. DM

Holiday Hazard Tips From The Drug And Poison Information

The holiday season is usually a time of joy but it also brings the potential for poisonings, according to the Drug and Poison Information Center (DPIC), a service of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. The following information includes safety hazards and precautionary ways to ensure that families have a safe holiday season.

Watch out for:


Investigating Numbness, Pain Or Muscle Weakness? Guidelines Identify Best Tests For Neuropathy

...Neuropathy affects one in 50 people in the general population and one in 12 over the age of 55. It ...causes numbness, tingling or pain, often starting in the feet and moving to the hands. Symptoms spread slowly and evenly up the legs and arms. Muscle wasting and weakness can also occur. Neuropathy takes many forms and has many causes. The most common cause is diabetes. Other common causes are heredity, alcohol abuse, poor nutrition and autoimmune processes. Not all of the causes are known. ...

Groundbreaking Research On Human Memory

...the neurons excited during an experience are the same as those excited when we remember that experience. ...

Tracking Eye Disorders In Statin Users; Predicting Visual Outcomes For Wounded Soldiers; Improving Glaucoma Tests With Patient Input

...Eye disorders related to statins are rare, occurring in about 0.1 percent of patients (0.5 to 2.5 percent when gemfibrozil, another type of cholesterol-lowering drug, is taken simultaneously). .... There were 23 cases of loss of eye range of motion, 8 cases of ptosis, and 18 cases of ptosis in conjunction with double vision; disorders in all patients apparently resolved completely when statins were discontinued. ...

What Is ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

...Health experts say that ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is the most common behavioral disorder that starts during childhood. However, it does not only affect children - people of all ages can suffer from ADHD. Psychiatrists say ADHD is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder...

Comments: Don't forget that a good percentage of ADHD patients have convergence insufficiency....and a good percentage of folks with convergence insufficiency act as if they have ADHD. All kids with ADHD and CI should be evaluated carefully. See articles below. DM

The relationship between convergence insufficiency and ADHD. Granet DB, Gomi CF, Ventura R, Miller-Scholte A. Strabismus. 2005 Dec;13(4):163-8.

Measuring ADHD behaviors in children with symptomatic accommodative dysfunction or convergence insufficiency: a preliminary study. Borsting E, Rouse M, Chu R. Optometry. 2005 Oct;76(10):588-92.

1,500 Americans suffer cork-related eye injuries

From AOA FirstLook:

Estimated 1,500 Americans suffer cork-related eye injuries, group says.
In the
USA Today (12/8) Better Life blog, Rita Rubin wrote that, according to a group of eye physicians, "an estimated 1,500 Americans suffer cork-related eye injuries" from improperly opening bottles of champagne and sparkling wines. According to the group, a champagne cork "can fly through the air at 50 miles an hour. That's enough to break glass or cause permanent eye injuries in a fraction of a second." Experts recommend chilling the bottle well, not shaking it before opening, and "covering the cork with a towel as you twist it out by hand, not with a corkscrew," as well as not pointing it at anyone as you are opening it.

Comments: Be very careful openning up that bubbly! DM

Infants blink less than twice a minute

From the AOA FirstLook:

Infants blink on average less than twice a minute, columnist explains.

In the New York Times (12/9, D5) Really? column, Anahad O'Connor writes that normal newborns "rarely close their eyes, except, of course, when sleeping," blinking "spontaneously at a rate far below that of adults." Published in the Annals of Neurology, a study once found that newborns "blink on average less than twice a minute, a rate that steadily increases up to the age of 14 or 15." In comparison, "adults, on average, blink about 10 to 15 times a minute." Experts theorize that babies, "perhaps because their eyes are better protected by smaller openings or because they sleep so much, may require less eye lubrication." It is also possible they don't blink often because their "ability to see is incomplete," and they "work hard to soak in visual information."

Millions need eyeglasses but don't have them

...More than 1 billion people globally suffer from a condition in which the eye's lens loses flexibility, blurring objects close by, and half of them do not own eyeglasses to help them see, researchers said on Monday....In 2005, an estimated 517 million people with presbyopia -- which is thought to be caused by a stiffening of the eyes' lenses or a weakening of muscles that focus the lens -- lacked eyeglasses or had an inadequate pair....

Comments: Finally refractive conditions get some respect! Let's get these folks examined and prescribed a pair of specs today! It's relatively easy, inexpensive, and doable....DM

Clothing With A Brain: 'Smart Fabrics' That Monitor Health

...Researchers in United States and China are reporting progress toward a simple, low-cost method to make "smart fabrics," electronic textiles capable of detecting diseases, monitoring heart rates, and other vital signs. ..... straight-out-of-science-fiction-fibers, made of carbon nanotubes...

Drug-Safety Data: Too Much Information?

...Too much information about drug safety -- disseminated through media, online alerts from consumer watchdog groups and even by the Food and Drug Administration itself -- might overwhelm patients and raise undue alarm, some medical professionals caution. Consumers may forget about the benefits of a medication if they focus only on risk. And the health consequences associated with stopping a medication, particularly for a chronic condition, may be far worse than the possibility of a side effect....

Comments: Are patients are not that dumb. They have a right to be informed and ask questions. We must be sure they understand the risks/benefits of any drug or medical device in a "reasonable" manner. Life carries most cases these risks are small, but if we inform the patient appropriately if things do go bad...they can recognize the signs and respond appropriately. The problem is not too much infor....but rather how we present the info to our patients! DM

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Institute on Disability and Human Development Alert newsletter

The Institute on Disability and Human Development (IDHD) at the University of Illinois at Chicago invites you to read our Alert newsletter on Support Services.

Books on Autism

This blog lists several books including Seeing Through New Eyes by Melvin Kaplan. DM

Ben's Stem Cell News

For the latest in Stem Cell should check out this blog. DM

Poor Reading Skills Linked with Impaired Eyesight

...Does your child hate to read - even though he enjoyed reading when he was in the primary grades? If so, you may want to schedule a vision test. Your child may have a common problem that can be corrected with eye training exercises, according to a new government study....

Creative Minds Temple Grandin, Ph.D. "Autism Is No Obstacle

The January Lecture will feature Temple Grandin, Ph.D. with her lecture, "Autism Is No Obstacle" on Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 6:30 pm. The most accomplished and best-known adult with autism, Temple Grandin, Ph.D. is the author of best-selling books like Thinking in Pictures and Other Reports From My Life With Autism and Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior. She invented a series of innovative livestock handling devices and has authored more than 300 articles in both scientific journals and livestock periodicals. During her presentation, she will offer personal insight into autism and offer strategies for overcoming this increasingly common condition of our society....All Creative Minds events will be held in Jelks Auditorium at Savannah Country Day School, located at 824 Stillwood Drive 31419, in Savannah, Georgia.

Comments: I've had an opportunity to meet and talk with Dr. Grandin at a COVD meeting a couple of years ago....she is a most interesting individual. If you happen to be in Savannah, GA go to this meeting. DM

Speaking the language of vaccines

Easing parents' fears about vaccine safety may mean moving beyond answers couched with scientific caveats....Childhood vaccines are entangled in a vast public controversy, and doctors often find themselves helping perplexed parents sort through misinformation before making a decision on immunization....

Neurology of musical performance

Altenmüller E. Neurology of musical performance Clin Med. 2008 Aug;8(4):410-3.

Performing music at a professional level requires the integration of multimodal sensory and motor information and precise monitoring of the performance via auditory feedback. .... dysfunctional plasticity in musicians, known as musician's dystonia, leads to deterioration of extensively trained fine motor skills. Musician's dystonia may be caused by training induced dysplasticity with pathological fusion of central nervous representations in sensorimotor cortical and subcortical brain regions.

AAP Recommends Red Reflex Examination for All Neonates, Infants, and Children

A revised policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics further outlines the risk factors for potentially vision- and life-threatening eye abnormalities, and recommends that all neonates, infants, and children have a red reflex eye examination. According to the statement, the examination should be conducted before discharge from the neonatal nursery and during all subsequent routine health supervision visits. All infants or children with an abnormal test should be immediately referred to an ophthalmologist skilled in pediatric examinations.While all infants and children benefit from serial red reflex screening, high risk infants (with relatives diagnosed with retinoblastoma, infantile or juvenile cataracts, retinal dysplasia, juvenile glaucoma, or other hereditary vision-threatening disorders) require referral to an ophthalmologist for complete exam regardless of the findings on red reflex testing.

Comments: Red reflex?! Shame on the AAP. Each infant should have a comprehenisive eye examination between 6 months and 1 year of age....and the American Optometric Association has the program to do just that! (BTW shame on the AAP for not mentioning that optometrists provide these services....FREE for these young children.). This program is the AOA's InfantSee program. Come on AAP....start thinking about your patients. Stop thinking that only OMDs can serve your patients. DM

Video Game Vision Test

One in four kids in the United States has some kind of vision problem, and undetected vision problems can make it tough for kids to learn. ...A new cost-effective and fun solution may make screenings easier. ...It's a video game designed to check kids' eyes. ..."By measuring response time in the right eye versus the left eye, it gives us information as to whether one eye is underperforming or not," ...many kids with vision problems can still pass a conventional eye test. ...The test screens for everything from visual acuity and basic vision problems to lazy eye, retinal disorders and even cataracts. Because it's automated, researchers believe this new test is more accurate and cost-effective than standard vision tests. .... A non-profit organization called VisionQuest 20/20 hopes to distribute the eye screening game to schools nationwide

Comments: I have not heard of this until now. Anyone know more? You can find out more by clicking here This organization was the Amblyopia Foundation of America...DM

One of a Kind Eye Treatment (for keratoconus)

...Drops of riboflavin, or vitamin B2, are applied to the cornea in phases. An ultraviolet light activates the drops. ..."There's a reaction between the ultraviolet light and the riboflavin, which joins or links the collagen molecules in the cornea and in doing so, makes it stiffer," Doyle Stulting, M.D., Ph.D., an ophthalmologist at Emory Eye Center in Atlanta, Ga., told Ivanhoe....

Comments: Eye drops to correct keratoconus! Awesome. If this works, it would be wonderful for my patients with Down Syndrome who have keratoconus. DM

Childhood Media Exposure Linked to Variety of Negative Health Outcomes

...Children who spend more time parked in front of video screens are more likely to suffer for it later, ...173 published studies found strong evidence linking duration of children's exposure to various forms of media to future tobacco use and obesity, reported Marcella Nunez-Smith, M.D., of Yale University, and colleagues in a report published and funded by Common Sense Media. They found moderate-quality evidence that increased exposure to media -- defined as television, video games, films, computer or internet use, music, music videos, and magazines -- leads to alcohol or drug use or poor school performance, and only a hint that it contributes to attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)....

Comments: Please note that Common Sense Media has a mission and that funding this project may reflect what they believe to be true...on the other hand....we know kids need to get out, play outside, turn the tube off, interact with their environment thru motor activities to grow. Optometrist have been recommending these kinds of activities for our children for decades. DM

Computer game designed to correct convergence insufficiency

From AOA's FirstLook:

Canada's Exchange Morning Post (12/5) reported that, according to a study presented at a vision conference, researchers from Canada's York University, working in collaboration with the University of Waterloo's School of Optometry, "have designed a computer game that corrects" convergence insufficiency "more effectively than conventional, 'boring' therapies." The video game is "a 3-D version of Pac Man" that "helps patients with" the condition "learn to align their eyes." The investigators "conducted a study in which patients were instructed to play the game for 20 minutes a day, five days a week, over a period of two weeks. They found that as subjects advanced through the game, the coordination of their eyes improved." The authors emphasized that "hidden stereoscopic imagery" within the game "provides a check that players have their eyes in the correct position." They also said that "results to date suggest the game will improve compliance on vision-therapy exercises."

Comments: It's really great that our colleagues at the U of Waterloo have developed this therapy. I would like to suggest that they present information about this development at the AOA, AAO and the COVD meetings in 2009! DM

Scientists back brain drugs for healthy people

...Healthy people should have the right to boost their brains with pills, like those prescribed for hyperactive kids or memory-impaired older folks, several scientists contend in a provocative commentary.College students are already illegally taking prescription stimulants like Ritalin to help them study, and demand for such drugs is likely to grow elsewhere, they say.
"We should welcome new methods of improving our brain function," and doing it with pills is no more morally objectionable than eating right or getting a good night's sleep, these experts wrote in an opinion piece published online Sunday by the journal Nature....

Comments: What? Normal people taking medically unnecessary drugs? We do not allow athletes to do this. We do not allow dopers to do this. Why would we allow others to do this? Several sci-fi writers have shown us a society where folks are given drugs to enhance this or that quality(usually fighters/soldiers)...and the harm that results. Whatever "experts" think this is a good idea should re-think the whole concept immediately! DM

Poor Children's Brain Activity Resembles That Of Stroke Victims, EEG Shows

... brains of low-income children function differently from the brains of high-income kids.
...normal 9- and 10-year-olds differing only in socioeconomic status have detectable differences in the response of their prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that is critical for problem solving and creativity...."Kids from lower socioeconomic levels show brain physiology patterns similar to someone who actually had damage in the frontal lobe as an adult," said Robert Knight, director of the institute and a UC Berkeley professor of psychology. "We found that kids are more likely to have a low response if they have low socioeconomic status, though not everyone who is poor has low frontal lobe response."...

Comments: If this is true, than children from lower socio-economic levels should be able to benefit from the same or similar optometric vision therapy that is currently used for those with traumatic brain injury. DM