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WOW! What a DAY!

Forget popping champagne, I kind of want gatorade poured on me!

I am totally sincere when I say that I am almost speechless. Well. I said almost! Hee hee. If you have not heard yet as the announcement won’t come for a couple of days from the magazine itself, I won 20/20 magazine’s writing contest and will be their “guest editor-in-chief!” I am so grateful and thankful and full of thanks and gratefulness…okay, maybe I am out of words, but in a good way! Wow, just wow!

It is not every day that you hear the editor-in-chief of a magazine on your voicemail. In my world, this is a first! I could not be more excited!!! Who is 20/20 magazine you say? Only the leading magazine for the optical industry, naming the hottest designers, fashions, trends and technologies in a very fun and funky way! It doesn’t get any more glam than this in the eye world!

The best part about winning was that the contest was based on writing. They said that 90 people submitted entries. Wow! I am just so happy that my little essay won. I have had this blog since 2008 but began branching out for more opportunities in science writing since May 2011. The thrill of being a guest on Scientific American‘s blog has been an immeasurable honor. And this just really gives me the confidence I need to keep going, “keep writing, someone is reading, someone is listening, what you write matters, what you share is enjoyed, you’re helping people, they get it, keep going, keep going.”

If I tried to thank everyone who has inspired me, who has lifted me up when I had lost confidence, who has told me to keep going, I wouldn’t do them justice. They don’t realize how much it really meant and the two little words of ‘thank you’ just don’t cut it. But I appreciate you all. I appreciate every time you encourage me and cheer for me and read what I have to say. I also appreciate the “likes,” and feedback. It lifts me up. Thank you. Thank you! Wow. Again, I’m out of words.

Anyway, I will be staying in Manhattan in March for a few days! I will get a tour of the offices at 20/20 and get peeks behind the scenes at how things are run (which is really the best part)! I will also be writing a column for them and featured in a column and I will also be with them at the Jacob Javits center in March for Vision Expo! I even get to attend a photo shoot for 20/20 (can it be a retro one, please? I just love one of the last ones they did with the vintage swimwear and cat eye glasses)!

You know I will be blogging, tweeting, tweetpic-ing and facebooking up a storm in March so get ready! And thank you, you guys, thank you for following me and pushing me to a little closer to my dream of writing with each kind gesture you so generously give. Thank you!

Get ready! And Cheers! To March and to all of you!

PS- Is it weird that one of the first things I thought of when I won was I have to write a blog post about this?? Probably. A little. Oh well! Wwooooo hoooo!

Cheryl G. Murphy, OD

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Happy New Year!

In case you missed it, I was recently over at Scientific American talking about what makes a winter wonderland white, in other words, the beauty and science of snow crystals. Did you realize that each snowflake starts as a dust particle in a cloud? It’s ‘no wonder’ snow is so cool, read more here

Also at Sci Am, I laid out the specs on the New Year’s Eve Ball dropping in New York’s Times Square this year. How they get something that is as big as an SUV and weighs as much as 4 tons gently down a flagpole is amazing let alone its dazzling brightness and pretty color combinations which range in the billions! You can check out the NYE ball year round in Times Square, they have made it weather resistant and able to tolerate high winds and wicked weather and it will stay in place perched high in the sky for all passer-bys who want to catch a glimpse. If you want to learn more about it, read here!

I will make more of an effort to post links to my articles on Sci Am’s guest blog here on my home blog so  you all don’t think I’ve been slacking off, quite the contrary, I have been working hard, don’t you worry! There’s always more I want to learn and tons of science hidden in plain sight for us to enjoy!

 

Hear Ye! Hear ye! I am proud to announce the blog it is a-changing once again!

Tada!

A new title for the blog! “Science hidden in plain Sight!”

I hope you like it. I changed it for a couple of reasons. When I first started this blog in 2008, I wasn’t sure of where I was going with it. Everything I wrote about back then was very patient-directed. I concentrated on answering questions related to optometry and eye health. While I still find writing about those areas valuable, I have been particularly enjoying exploring the fundamentals of vision science and how we see and interpret the world around us. This is reflected in the articles I have had the privilege of contributing to Scientific American’s guest blog as well as my previous works here like, Why is the Sky Blue?, Visions of the World’s most famous Artist, Eye Contact: What are you Saying with your Eyes? and One of the Greatest Lies ever told: Carrots.

So, in short, I have finally found my way. I know where I want to go with this blog. I will, at times, still write on topics regarding patient care and eye health, but my primary focus will become what I find interesting in the world and its relation to vision! So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride, the journey has really just begun!

Sincere Thanks,

Cheryl G. Murphy OD

What to do when your eye doctor asks more than just "which is better, 1 or 2?"

If your optometrist asks you if you have recently had your cholesterol and lipid levels checked, they may not be just making conversation. Did you know that during an eye exam the eye doctor is looking for cholesterol?

(They might even be able to spot it in the waiting room. Yellowish, fatty deposits of cholesterol can appear on the skin of and around the eyelids. These deposits are called Xanthelasma and can be seen with the naked eye. If your eye doctor spots and identifies these plaques on the skin as Xanthelasma, it will be necessary to get your cholesterol checked. Now, let’s go into the exam room…)

With the biomicroscope, your doctor searches for cholesterol in your eyes in two more places, one of which is the cornea where cholesterol can deposit in an arc-like formation, circling the outer cornea resembling a white, gray or yellowish ring around the normally clear corneal tissue.  This ring is called Arcus Senilis in those over 60 years of age and is often considered a normal finding as the cornea is one of the places in the body where cholesterol can naturally accumulate over the course of one’s lifetime. Have you ever seen this in your grandparents’ eyes? It almost looks like a halo in front of their iris and I have had some patients with it tell me that their eye color ‘has gotten lighter’ which of course isn’t the case, it just may appear that way through the white veil of cholesterol.

If you are under 60 or even more strikingly under 40, and corneal arcus is noted by your doctor then they may ask about your lipid levels, the last time you had blood work done and also may note any family history of high cholesterol or other cardiovascular conditions.

Cholesterol is an essential component in cell structures and as you have probably heard sometimes cholesterol isn’t such a bad guy. If your optometrist sees cholesterol deposited on your cornea, further testing is needed to determine whether or not the cholesterol there is a sign of something you should be worried about. To learn more about lighter side of cholesterol and why we absolutely need it in our lives (and our cells), check out this awesomely cute article by Jeanne Garbarino and video by Perrin Ireland!

The second place cholesterol can show up is inside the eye in the arteries of the retina. A piece of cholesterol may even be seen stuck in one of the retinal arteries usually at a bifurcation or branching point of an artery. When this happens that once free-floating piece of cholesterol now momentarily lodged  in the retinal artery is referred to as a hollenhorst plaque. If your eye doctor sees this, they will quickly refer you to your general physician for additional evaluation and testing to determine from where this embolus originated. In other words, if there are small plaques of cholesterol lodged in small arteries of the body there may be larger plaques in larger arteries of the body. These larger plaques put you at risk for heart attacks and strokes. Since the presence of hollenhorst plaques is a sign of severe atherosclerosis,  if cholesterol is seen in the retinal arteries inside the eye, your doctor will take it very seriously. And so should you.

The eyes can tell you a lot about your health so the next time your eye doctor asks you about your medical history or your family medical history, be honest, be open and tell them all about it. It may turn into one of the most important conversations of your life, one that can save it.

Keep the Conversation with your Eye Doctor going. There is a reason why they are asking each question.

What a Time to be Thankful!

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Turkeys could "pass" the eye exam with flying colors.

Wow! Well, it has been a while since I have been back on my own blog writing so I thought I would stop by! I have been lucky enough to continue doing some guest blogging for Scientific American’s blog network and also for Review of Optometric Business. I do miss my own home base sometimes though and I actually was originally going to post my latest post on Sci Am on here but was so happy when they approved the idea to host it over there. My latest post was on Tom Turkey’s Terrific Vision.

Turkeys can see very well, much better, in fact, than you or I. They actually have the ‘most complex retina of any vertebrae’ and can even see an extended part of the color spectrum including UVA light. I am sort of jealous of this super hero-like power they have. Plus, the whole flying thing. They got that over on us as well! Perhaps they should don a cape instead of that beautiful fan of feathers.

Turkeys are extraordinary, I think I agree with Ben Franklin, they are courageous, they are powerful, forget the bald eagle, maybe we really should have had the turkey as the mascot for America.

Amazing Creatures symbolic not of our nation but of our Day of Thanks

Anyway, I am thankful for the opportunities in science writing I have had and the people I’ve been meeting but around the holidays, it is always good to ‘come home again’ here to my blog, the place where it all started. Thank you for following me! I am sorry if I haven’t gotten a chance to respond to your questions and topic requests yet. I promise I will soon!

Thank you for your patience and support! The Readers make the writer.

Happy Thanksgiving to All! =)

Dr. Cheryl G. Murphy

Celebrating 20,000 views!

Yippee! Hooray! All Thanks to YOU!

WOW! I can not believe it! 20,000! I am so excited! It was just a short time ago that I was celebrating this blog achieving 10,000 views. I am so grateful to all of my readers and to the people who have inspired and encouraged me to reach for higher heights. I never would have thought I would be guest blogging on Scientific American (or on Scientopia), it is like a dream of mine is coming true. I have gotten the chance to interact with some amazing people who happen to be science writers. I am so thankful to them for taking a chance on a rookie. Just three months ago, I did not know where my writing would take me. While I still don’t know where it will take me, I now know where I want to go.

Like a birthday wish when you are blowing out the candles, I want to keep my final wish a secret for fear if I utter it out loud it will never come true. But I can visualize it in my mind and will continue to work hard, keep the faith and carry on.

Mark Twain once said, “Really great people make you feel like you, too, can become great.” With that, I would just like to thank all of  the people who have helped me aim for the moon and hit the stars. I was going to list the names here but I think you all know who you are.

To my readers, YOU are the reason for this party! I hope I have helped you in some small way. I will continue to present topics in a clear, easy to read manner, answer topic requests and raise awareness about eye conditions and illnesses that may not be getting the attention they deserve. Feel free to contact me!

Sincere Thanks and let’s keep the celebrations coming! Woo hoo!

Cheryl G. Murphy, O.D.

"Wish you Were Here!" Oh, wait, you can be!

HELLO READERS!

Just dropping you a virtual postcard to let you know my whereabouts and why I have not posted on here in a while! If you aren’t following me yet on Facebook and Twitter please do! It makes it super easy for us to stay in touch and I always link to all of my articles on there.

Lately I have felt like a bit of a vagabond! A world (wide web) traveler! I have had the honor of contributing to the guest blog at Scientific American and also Scientopia. It has been quite a thrill for me! I have actually been over at Scientopia all last week and will be there this week too so feel free to head over there and check me out and some of the other great science blogs on there too! I have another Scientific American guest blog post also in the works so look for me there and be sure to check out their incredible network of bloggers on everything from Anthropology to Cocktail Party Physics, they are really an awesome group of people and you will learn a ton, keeping up with the latest and greatest news in the science realm along the way!

Keep in touch and feel free to contact me with topic requests!

Cheryl G. Murphy, O.D.

PS- Here are the links to my previous three posts at Scientific American!

Lost in the Details or just paying attention? 

Pssst!! Gossip and the Link to your Vision. 

Will Carrots help you see better, No. But Chocolate Might.