1. Archive

Eye injuries require split-second action

Although a lot of accidents can be prevented, bad things still happen to careful people. "Some things are hard to predict; freak accidents do occur," says Dr. Terrence O'Brien, director of the ocular trauma service at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. "Usually, it happens in a split second: Someone does something without thinking, and there's a potentially blinding injury," he adds. Some quick thinking in the split seconds afterward might lessen the damage. If a caustic chemical has splashed in the eyes, get it washed out fast. "You don't even have to have totally clean water. Get to a sink, a hose, use soda pop or bottled water or any source of non-caustic liquid. Then go to the emergency room," O'Brien says. If a sharp object or rust gets in the eye, don't try to take it out, he warns. "Don't rub to remove foreign bodies. If something is embedded in the eye, cover it and come right into the emergency room."Incontinence has many treatments

Poor urinary control, a common and often embarrassing problem among older Americans, is a condition that physicians say can be alleviated for many. "People often don't seek active treatment because they are uncomfortable or embarrassed or don't realize that there is relief," said Dr. Jordan Brown, professor of clinical urology at New York University Medical Center. "They think they are the only person with the problem, which is far from accurate." Urinary incontinence occurs in about one of every nine Americans 65 or older, but this may be underestimated because people are often reluctant to report it. Several treatment options are available for urinary incontinence. For urgency incontinence, certain medications may decrease the sense of urgency in those who have neurologic causes for their incontinence. For stress incontinence, other medications may increase the tone of the bladder neck or sphincter. In some cases, surgery may be the answer. If a large prostate is contributing to incontinence in men, it can be surgically removed. If the urinary sphincter is damaged, an artificial sphincter often can be implanted. In patients who are not helped by these other measures, Brown said, devices such as absorbent pads and external catheters are also available to help keep them comfortable.

Decreasing sunlight damage to the eye

Invisible ultraviolet light, one of the sun's high-energy components, not only causes most cases of skin cancer, but may also be damaging to the eyes. "There is increasing evidence that ultraviolet (UV) light causes, or at least accelerates, the two most common serious eye conditions related to aging," said Dr. Robert Cykiert, an ophthalmologist at New York University Medical Center. UV light likely plays a role in the formation of some cataracts. The cumulative effect of decades of exposure to UV light may also damage cells at the center of the retina. Known as macular degeneration, this condition is the leading cause of permanent blindness in some adults. While these conditions usually don't become obvious until later in life, they start slowly developing at a much earlier age. "So the earlier you start protecting your eyes from UV light, the better," Cykiert said. Many sunglasses are now manufactured with a material within the lenses that selectively blocks out UV light. As of last year, all manufacturers label their sunglasses that have UV block, and what degree of protection they afford. "For the average person, the recommended blocking level is 95 percent," Cykiert noted.

Race unrelated to women's alcohol use

The idea that black women are more likely to drink heavily than white women is a myth, according to the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration. Lower educational attainment, but not race, is associated with greater drinking. Black and white women drink in approximately equal proportions, but a higher fraction of black women are total abstainers.

_ Compiled from wire reports