Archive for May, 2011

Gossip: Your ears may be doing the listening, but your Eyes are the ones taking all the notes!

The ears may lean towards gossip but your eyes find a way to protect yourself from it, if need be. An interesting experiment recently conducted at Northeastern University reveals that your eyes and brain select for information that may help save you from trouble or danger in the long run. Participants in this study were simultaneously shown a different image to each of their eyes using a mirror stereoscope. One of their eyes was shown an image of a house, while the other eye was shown an image of a human face at the same time. Each eye seeing a different image creates binocular rivalry and the brain ends up having to choose which image to pay the most attention to and it temporarily ignores or suppresses the other eye’s input. While the participants were shown these images they were told something about the face of the person in the image. They were either told a positive, neutral or negative statement and the subject matter of the statement was also social or non-social. For example, “he threw a chair at someone in his class” would be a negative, social statement, while “she drew the curtains in the room” would be a neutral, non-social statement.

The researchers then had people describe what they were seeing and for how long (the brain and the eyes may switch back and forth between the two images before deciding on which one will take over their visual consciousness completely). They found that participants reported their eyes (and brain) saw the image of a person’s face for a longer period of time when it was associated with a negative, social statement. They believe this may be a sort of protective mechanism; that if they focus on the face longer, knowing that it is a ‘bad guy,’ they may be creating a mental note to watch out for, or to stay far away from, that person in the future. Have you ever heard someone say that after they found out something about someone else, they ‘never looked at’ that person the same way? This may explain part of the reason why. Our eyes and our brain may be actively compiling a visual index of who is friend and who is foe. Interesting stuff! This gives new meaning to the phrase, I was “just looking out for you.”

(Source 1)(Source 2)


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Carrots CAN keep your eyes healthy but won't eliminate your need for glasses

I can’t count the number of times I have been asked by patients if carrots really can improve their eyesight. I think most people are looking for carrots to be a magical ‘cure’ for their refractive error. They want to eliminate their need for glasses and want carrots to make them have perfect 20/20 vision. While proper nutrition is necessary to maintain healthy eyes and can even help slow the progression of certain eye conditions and illnesses such as cataracts and macular degeneration, consuming a certain type of food can not ‘cure’ your need for glasses. HOWEVER, in recent studies it has been shown that what you eat CAN affect the sharpness of your vision! Say what, Dr. Murphy? Let me explain.

A study was recently conducted at the University of Reading where they measured the visual awareness and detection skills of 30 healthy young subjects two hours after they consumed either dark chocolate (which contains antioxidants called Cocoa Flavanols or CFs) or white chocolate (since white chocolate does not contain CF, this acted as a placebo).

*Yum! Chocolate!* Where do I sign up for this experiment again? Whoops, sorry. Back to the blog.

All kidding aside, the study set out to examine the effects of cocoa flavanols on vision and cognition. The experiment went like this, the 30 people were divided into two groups. One group consumed dark chocolate, the other consumed white. Then they were given a series of tests two hours later, when the CFs would have been releasing their physiological effects on the body. The tests given measured the subjects’ visual contrast sensitivity, motion sensitivity and direction detection and cognitive performance through visual spatial memory and a choice reaction cognitive task. They recorded the results and then a week later, they actually did the same experiment again with the same 30 subjects with one difference, they swapped sides! The white chocolate subjects now consumed dark chocolate and vice versa.

What they found, both weeks, was an improvement in visual and cognitive performances of the subjects who consumed the dark chocolate. The subjects who consumed the white chocolate had no real enhancement in their testing performance. This demonstrated that CFs really can temporarily improve your vision and cognition skills in as little as two hours, the effects of which are temporary. Researchers think that CFs increase blood flow to the eyes and brain and that this is what leads to enhanced functioning of those structures. They state that, “the results of the current study demonstrate for the first time that performance on tests of visual system function in healthy young adults can be improved by the acute consumption of CF.” (source)

More studies need to be done in this area to find out what this all means and how we could benefit from this knowledge but oh what fun that research will be! MMmmmm! =)

Dark Chocolate contains Cocoa Flavanols which can temporarily increase visual contrast sensitivity and visual detection.

Now I am not saying dark chocolate is better for you than carrots. I am not saying to eat dark chocolate everyday and substitute it for fruits and vegetables or your regular meal. I am not even saying that dark chocolate will cause improvements to your vision that you yourself will notice. I am bringing up this topic just to remind you that what you eat affects your body, sometimes in ways we haven’t even learned yet. So stick to a healthy, well-balanced diet. And a little indulgence consisting of a small amount of dark chocolate as a dessert every now and then is probably a very good thing.


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A memo from the desk of Cheryl G. Murphy, O.D.

Something came to my attention the other day and what better way to talk about it than here on my blog. I use this blog as a sounding board for patient education and proper patient care.

As a patient, you should know, it is okay to ask your doctor questions. Here are a couple of tips on how to do so:

It helps to keep these questions, clear and concise. Do your research beforehand and write down a short list of things you’d like to know. Your doctor should be able to take the time to answer them for you if you keep things straight-forward and short. If they appear busy or if there are twenty other patients waiting to see them after you and they can not take the extra time to address your concerns right then and there, then ask if there would be a better way or time to do so. Some doctors may make phone calls at the end of the day or when things are a bit less hectic to make sure their patients’ questions are answered. They may even be willing to contact you via professional email if this is a method of communication that you are both comfortable using.

Perhaps they would like to schedule another office visit with you to discuss things further, gather more information, and do more testing if needed. It is important to realize that an extra office visit may incur more fees that go beyond your initial visit so find this out ahead of time and be aware that your insurance company or you may be billed for a second visit.

Gather resources from your doctor. Your doctor may know of very good resources where you can get the information you need online, over the phone or through the mail. There are many organizations and foundations that provide educational material about different conditions, illnesses and diseases. You could use these well-trusted resources recommended to you by your doctor as a way to build a better understanding of the topic that concerns you.

Also, remember that not one doctor on the planet knows every answer to every question, it is impossible. Accept that sometimes there may not be such a clear-cut answer to your inquiry, sometimes more scientific research has to be done on a subject to find out the ‘whats’ and ‘whys.’ There is a lot about medicine and health science that we have yet to discover. The answer to certain questions may not exist yet but your doctor will give you the best explanation they can of what we know now and will keep you up to date of all of the latest discoveries and developments. You can help to ensure you have the latest information and treatment options by adhering to the recommended return schedule for examinations set for you by your doctor.

Nowadays it is getting more common for doctors to have, not only a website but also professional accounts under various social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare through which they can relay the latest health news and information to a broad range of their patients. Just look at how Twitter helped doctors SAVE THE LIVES of their patients after the earthquake in Japan! 

Remember, most doctors enjoy helping patients and gain satisfaction in knowing that their needs and concerns are met. You should never feel like you can not ask your doctor a question.

Lastly, if your doctor blatantly refuses to answer any questions from you or refer you to well-trusted sources where you could get the answers you need, then the only question you should really be asking is: Am I with the right Doctor?

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Find it a little harder for you to drive at night? It may be time for an eye exam.

CLEAR AND WELL-FUNCTIONING VISION- Improve your everyday life by ensuring that you are seeing 20/20. Good clarity and visual function can enhance your work/school performance and increase your safety as you navigate around your world. Not to mention allowing you to enjoy your environment without strain or squinting! If you paid $10 for the movie ticket, shouldn’t you be able to see it without squinting? Wouldn’t you like to be able to use the computer without that headache at the end of the day? Wouldn’t it be nice to see every leaf on every tree? Read the fine print on a medication bottle? Feel confident driving at night? Know why it’s hard for you to play those 3D video games or see the hidden picture in those magic eye posters? Your eye doctor can help with many of these issues to enhance your everyday life and make it less visually stressful!


EYE HEALTH and OVERALL HEALTH- Do you have allergies? Systemic allergy medications not relieving your itchy, watery red eyes? Do your eyes feel dry? Are you constantly using eye drops to re-wet them? Do your contact lenses bother you every single day? Tell your eye doctor, we will evaluate your eyes and can prescribe ways to help you get relief!

Also, did you know that many eye diseases are symptomless and since they do not cause you any pain you may not even realize they are there until they start to affect your vision? Your eye doctor checks for early signs of these conditions and can help initiate treatment and closely monitor you to make sure these eye conditions do not rob you of your precious sight!

Early warning signs of systemic conditions that can affect your overall health such as diabetes, uncontrolled high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, just to name a few, are searched for during your eye exam as well. Eye exams do not replace a regular physical and check up with your general physician but during your exam, your eye doctor may pick up on signs of these conditions that you otherwise may not have even known you had or that you thought were being managed properly. So getting an eye exam is a benefit to your eye health and can also be a great benefit to your general health!


Function and Fashion, new glasses can show you are well put-together!

AN UPDATED LOOK. A LOOK OF CONFIDENCE- You wouldn’t go to a job interview with a wrinkled suit, so why go with outdated eyeglasses? Get an accurate prescription and the latest style to boost your confidence and show others you are well put-together. Glasses may be something you will use everyday, it is a good idea to invest in a nice high quality pair that you will enjoy using and be proud to wear! Just like a good watch, it is an accessory you (and others) will be seeing a lot of, make it reflection of your own personal style. It is also a good idea to get a high quality pair of prescription sunglasses (again, for function-protecting your eye health from the damaging UVA/UVB light rays from the sun, and for fashion).

The time to look and feel your best is now! Call for an appointment for an eye exam today!

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