Blurry Vision? It Could Be a Sign of Macular Degeneration

Blurry Vision? It Could Be a Sign of Macular Degeneration

Fridar Gichuki |Nov 5, 2020

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is an eye disease, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD). This condition can lead to loss of vision, especially for those over 60 years old. The disease is characterized by the thinning of the macular, a subsection of the retina, situated at the back layer of the eye and transmits what the eyes see in the brain through the optic nerve.

There are two types of AMD: wet macular degeneration and dry macular degeneration. Dry macular degeneration is characterized by yellow deposits, also known as drusen, in the macula. The drusen become bigger, increase in number as the disease advances, and then they begin to distort and blur your vision. The light sensitive cells in your macular thin out and die. As the disease progresses, you may develop a blind spot at the center of your vision until you lose central vision.

Wet macular degeneration is characterized by the growth of blood vessels form under the macula. The blood vessels leak blood and other fluids into your retina. This distorts your vision and causes straight lines to look bent. Eventually, the bleeding blood vessels scar, and cause a permanent loss of central vision.

90% of the people with AMD have the dry form even though, in some cases, it develops into the wet form.

Common Symptoms

Macular degeneration usually occurs progressively. Most patients with AMD have no pain, which means the disease is often caught at an advanced stage, having affected both eyes.

Common symptoms can include the following:

  • Blurry and dark sections at the center of your vision
  • Difficulty recognizing faces
  • Distorted visions are causing wrong color perception and objects to appear bent or deformed
  • An increasing need for light when reading and increased blurriness of printed text
  • Difficulty visually adjusting when you move from a well-lit area to one that’s dimly lit

There are three stages of macular degeneration as follows:

  • Early AMD: There is no vision loss. This stage is diagnosed in people with AMD risk factors. Early AMD is characterized by yellow deposit below the retina.
  • Intermediate AMD: At this stage, there may be noticeable color changes in the retina, and the yellow deposits beneath it are larger than those in the early stage.
  • Late AMD: With late AMD, the patient experiences noticeable vision loss.

Some of the risk factors for macular degeneration include:

  • Age: As the name suggests, age is the most significant risk factor for AMD.
  • Genetics: People with a family history of AMD are likely to also get it.
  • Sex: Women are at a greater risk for developing macular degeneration compared to men.
  • Smoking: Smoking and other poor lifestyle choices (such as having high cholesterol, being obese, and consuming saturated fats) can double your risk of developing macular degeneration.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Regular eye tests are necessary to diagnose AMD. The presence of drusen or pigment clumping beneath the retina is an indication of the disease.

The doctor may also show you an Amsler grid to look at. If any of the lines appear wavy, then it can indicate macular degeneration.

If the cause of your AMD is age-related, then the doctor may carry out an angiography or an Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) procedure.

With an angiography, the doctor injects dye into a vein in your arm. As the dye reaches and flows through your retina, the doctor uses special equipment to take photographs. The photos will show any new vessels or vessels leaking blood into the macula. With the OCT procedure, the doctor can make the same observations without the use of dye.

Treatment and Management Options

Macular degeneration has no cure. However, there are a few measures you can take to mitigate the progression of the disease. One key step you can take is avoiding smoking, and make sure you have a healthy diet and exercise. You could also protect your eyes from ultra-violet light.

Treatment options for patients may include the following:

  • Medications: Drugs prescribed may include ranibizumab (Lucentis), pegaptanib (Macugen), Aflibercept (Eylea), and bevacizumab (Avastin). These are anti-angiogenesis drugs used to inhibit the creation of blood vessels and leaking from the vessels beneath the retina. These drugs are particularly useful for wet macular degeneration and can restore the sight of the patients. However, the patient must take the treatment every time the blood vessels re-occur.
  • Laser therapy: This procedure helps destroy abnormal blood vessel growth.
  • Photodynamic laser therapy: With this procedure, a doctor injects a light-sensitive drug called verteporfin (Visudyne) into the blood, which is then absorbed into the damaging blood vessels. The doctor then shines a laser into your eye, which destroyed the medication and subsequently damaging the vessels.
  • Low vision aids: These are electronic lenses that enlarge the images of things near your vision.

The type of treatment you receive will be based on your individual needs. Always be sure to speak with your doctor if you have questions or concerns, and they will help you create the best treatment plan to help manage your symptoms.

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7 Ways to Treat Plantar Fasciitis

Krista Bugden | November 5, 2020

How to Treat Plantar Fasciitis About 1% of American adults experience plantar fasciitis each year. In fact, about 1 in 10 individuals will experience this condition at some point during their life, so knowing how to treat plantar fasciitis, both medically and naturally, is important. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the connective tissue along the bottom of the foot becomes inflamed and irritated. Typically, the main sign of plantar fasciitis is heel pain. As such, this condition can make it difficult to walk, leading to frustration and a decreased quality of life. Luckily, plantar fasciitis is a treatable condition. Most people recover within a matter of months. In this article, we are going to offer a brief overview of the signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis, as well as the treatment options available. Plantar Fasciitis Signs and Symptoms The most common signs of plantar fasciitis include: Pain in the heel, or near the heel. Increased pain after walking or exercise. Pain in the arch of the foot. Increased pain in the morning. Swelling in the heel. Pain in the heel that goes on for months at a time. A tight Achilles heel or calf muscle. Plantar fasciitis can occur due to several reasons, such as: Wearing improper footwear. Carrying excess weight. Running, jumping, working or walking on hard surfaces. Standing for long durations. Exercising without properly stretching the calves. 7 Best Treatment Options So, you have got heel pain. Now, what? You actually have quite a few options. Below offers an outline of some of the most popular ones. 1. Calf Stretching In many cases, plantar fasciitis can be caused by tight calves or a tight Achilles heel. This usually happens due to high levels of activity without adequate stretching. Thus, part of your solution to plantar fasciitis may be stretching your calf muscles regularly. To do so, find a wall nearby. Place both your hands on the wall and extend your affected foot back, pressing the heel down into the floor. As you do this, lean forward into the wall. You should feel a gentle stretch on your back leg. Hold here for about 20 to 30 seconds. Make sure to do both sides (this can actually help prevent plantar fasciitis from developing in both feet). 2. Use Custom Insoles Custom insoles are fitted to your feet. This offers the support your feet and body needs, including abnormal foot motion or collapsed arches (flat feet). Often referred to as orthotics, you will need to go to a clinic or center that specializes in making these. You’ll usually go in for making the mold, then have a follow-up appointment to ensure the insoles fit correctly. 3. Wear Proper Footwear Walking in high heels or flip-flops can lead to improper gait and foot movements. As a result, you are more likely to experience plantar fasciitis after doing so. A quick fix (and preventative tactic)? Wear proper footwear! If you are planning on walking for a set duration, put on sneakers or shoes suited to the activity. This may further involve wearing insoles made specifically for you, as mentioned above. [youmaylike] 4. Ice the Painful Area Icing can help reduce pain and decrease inflammation. Aim to ice your affected foot for about 10 to 15 minutes, about three to four times each day. Ensure you place a cloth between your skin and the ice pack to prevent any damage caused by the cold. It may further help to roll a cold water bottle along the bottom of your foot (this can help release tension and knots in that connective tissue). However, if this causes more pain, don’t continue. 5. Limit Physical Activity Unfortunately, the main treatment for plantar fasciitis involves resting. This means no walking or running. Yet, you can still exercise, but you may simply need to explore different options, such as floor movements or sitting exercises over standing. Ideally, you likely want to limit your physical activity until the pain subsides. 6. Lose Weight If excess weight is a contributing factor to your plantar fasciitis, your doctor may recommend losing weight and working toward a healthier weight. As such, you may need to change certain lifestyle habits. This may involve eating healthier and cutting out processed foods. When it comes to exercise, you may opt for options that don’t put pressure on your feet, such as swimming or biking. The key is to start slow and gradually build up your resistance, frequency or intensity. 7. Physical Therapy Physical therapists are knowledgeable when it comes to the musculoskeletal system and biomechanics of the body. They can help determine the reason why you are experiencing plantar fasciitis, helping you come up with strategies to reduce your pain and prevent it from happening again. As part of your physical therapy treatment, you may undergo manual therapy, be given prescribed exercises and stretches, as well as be provided with advice on types of shoes to wear or what type of activities you can do. In Review All in all, plantar fasciitis is treatable. You don’t have to experience ongoing heel pain for the rest of your life, nor do you have to experience recurring heel pain. Taking proper care and the proper measures to prevent it go a long way, as well as help you maintain your health well into the future.

7 Benefits of Using an IUD

Elizabeth DiCesare | November 5, 2020

IUD Benefits to Consider IUDs are becoming a popular birth control option. In this article we look at seven IUD benefits, and discuss the different options. Talk to your doctor or a medical health professional, or visit a Planned Parenthood, for more information on getting a prescription. 1. Preventing Pregnancy IUDs are over 99% effective when it comes to preventing pregnancy. For people who don’t want an unexpected pregnancy, that is much more effective than the pill, which is 99% effective only when taken properly. The pill must be taken at the same time each day, which might be difficult for some people. IUDs, however, just need to be inserted and then they automatically do their job. 2. Out of Sight, Out of Mind Unlike prescriptions that need to be refilled every month, IUDs only need to be inserted once and then they are good for 3 to 10 years (depending on what type you get). They are incredibly convenient; all the user needs to do is check the strings to make sure it is still placed properly and call their doctor if they think it isn’t. Not having to think about taking a pill every day or buying new condoms when you are running low makes things easier and less stressful when it comes to your sexual and reproductive health. 3. No More Periods One of the side effects of using an IUD is the potential to stop menstruating. While this can be startling at first, it is completely normal. It’s common for hormonal IUDs to completely stop periods or lessen the flow. For many people, this is a welcome change. Other side effects related to periods include less severe cramps and minimal bloating. 4. Non-Hormonal Options Many people don’t want to be on hormonal birth control for several reasons. Luckily, there are non-hormonal IUDs as well. Paragard is a copper IUD that works in a similar way and is a great alternative to hormonal birth control options. However, you should confirm with your doctor that you don’t have a copper allergy before moving forward with this option. 5. Emergency Contraception Another bonus use of copper IUDs is that they can act as a method of emergency contraception. Having one inserted within five days of having unprotected sex is 99% effective at stopping an unwanted pregnancy. This is a great option for those who cannot access Plan B, and then they can be left in afterwards as well for future protection. [youmaylike] 6. Cost Effective Being on the pill means paying for a prescription every month. This adds up, especially if your insurance doesn’t cover the cost, and even more so if you have to pay for a doctor’s appointment. While IUDs can have a big up-front cost, they are more cost effective over time. You pay only once and then enjoy the benefits over the next few years. Some options are covered by insurance, and there are social service programs that can also help people access cheaper options. 7. Easily Reversible If you decide you are ready for children, you can easily get your IUD removed. Once you book an appointment and it is taken out, your body will be fertile again. You don’t have to worry about infertility, as there is no waiting period; once it is out of your uterus, you can start trying to get pregnant. Types of IUDs As we mentioned previously, there are hormonal and copper IUDs. Both options prevent pregnancy, but there are some differences when it comes to how long they can be used for. Talk to your doctor or healthcare professional about what option would be best for you. Hormonal IUDs Mirena can be used for up to five years and is a popular option for people who have already given birth. Kyleena can be used for up to five years and has lower hormone levels than other options. Skyla can be used for up to three years and is smaller than other options, which makes it easier to insert. Liletta can be used for up to six years and can be used whether or not you have given birth. Copper IUD Paragard can be used for up to 10 years and is the only non-hormonal IUD currently on the market. Side Effects of IUDs While there are many benefits to using an IUD, there are side effects users should be aware of too. Many are like the side effects experienced with other types of birth control. Inconsistent bleeding and/or irregular periods. Acne. Breast tenderness. Pelvic pain and/or cramps. Perforation. This happens if your IUD moves and pokes through your uterus or cervix. If you are experience negative side effects or think there is an issue with your IUD’s placement, speak to your doctor or a healthcare professional.

3 Common Seizure Triggers

Pamela Bandelaria | November 5, 2020

What Triggers Seizures? Seizures are one of the most well-documented symptoms everyone is familiar with. It is one of the symptoms commonly shown in movies and shows and the most common acute neurologic problem in the U.S. Data shows that around 1 in 10 people will have a seizure not caused by an injury, such as a concussion, illness, or infection. This might make you ask, “What triggers seizures?” First, you need to understand that recurrent seizures, also known as epilepsy, is the third most common serious neurologic disorder and occurs in 1 in 26 people. Around 3.4 million Americans live with this condition. Although many people know what a seizure is, not everyone knows what to do when it happens, and even fewer know that some seizures can be anticipated or preempted. Knowing when a seizure will occur is important to prepare appropriately, and in some cases, even prevent seizures from happening. This article will discuss what a seizure is, what the symptoms of a seizure are and what triggers seizures. What is a Seizure? The brain, comprising of nerve cells, communicates and functions by transmitting electrical activity from one nerve cell to another. This is how we are able to think, move and feel. When there is a disruption in electrical activity, this can affect our thoughts, feelings and movements. A seizure is an uncontrolled surge of electrical activity by the brain, which leads to changes in consciousness and involuntary movement of our muscles. Seizures not only disrupt electrical activity but also disrupt oxygen transport and delivery. This is why, even though seizures usually resolve on their own, the aim is to prevent them from happening. Repeated seizures and seizures that occur for a prolonged period of time can lead to irreversible complications. The brain is one of the organs that continuously needs oxygen, and permanent brain damage can be observed in just minutes without an adequate oxygen supply. In severe cases, this can be life-threatening. Seizure Symptoms Seizures may present in various ways. The classic presentation of a person experiencing a seizure includes: Eyes that are rolled upward. Arms and legs exhibiting stiffening or jerking movements. This is due to the disruption in brain activity, which affects the muscles of the body. Sitting still and staring. Small, twitching movements in the fingers or face. A sudden stop in breathing or changes in breathing patterns. Loss of bowel and bladder control, which can lead someone to soiling themselves. What Triggers a Seizure? Once a seizure begins, there is little that can be done except wait for the seizure to cease or take the person to a nearest health facility. However, some seizures are more likely to occur under certain circumstances, wherein a pattern can be noted. In some cases, these situations can trigger a seizure, with increased chances of it happening. For people who have recurrent seizures, identifying these seizure triggers is helpful in seeing if a seizure might possibly happen and when these factors are removed, can the seizure be prevented. The following section discusses some common seizure triggers. 1. Stress Although there are still debates as to whether or not stress can really trigger seizures, it is one of the most common factors perceived by people who experience recurrent seizures. Studies show that during periods of stress, there is an increase in the frequency of seizures experienced by patients with epilepsy. It is hypothesized that it can be due to the release of cortisol, which has excitatory properties that can further contribute to the occurrence of seizures. [youmaylike] 2. Sleep Problems Sleep problems have also been considered as another seizure trigger. Lack of sleep and disrupted sleep were found to contribute to occurrence of seizures, even in the absence of other triggers or factors. Poor quality of sleep has also been perceived by patients to trigger some seizures, although data is not as strong compared to quantity of sleep. Sleep deprivation as a seizure trigger is due to its effect on gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. Some studies show that treatment of sleep problems also results in fewer occurrences of seizures. 3. Flashing Lights and Bright Lights Exposure to bright lights or flashes of light can also cause seizures. This occurs in around 3% of people with epilepsy. This kind of epilepsy is called photosensitive epilepsy. Examples of light sources that can trigger seizures include: Light from television screens or computer monitors. Strobe lights. Flashing lights in vehicles. Natural light or sunlight. Avoiding these can be helpful in reducing the occurrence of seizures in susceptible patients. When seeing a seizure, it can look scary at first. Most people panic when they see someone experiencing a seizure episode. However, knowing how to deal with this medical situation and knowing how to identify seizure triggers can be extremely helpful and lifesaving.