AS old age catches up with us we worry about body beautiful from top to toe…ears, eyes, teeth, knees, feet, etc. Cataract surgery worries many of us with no firm consensus on when one should go post haste to an ophthalmologist surgeon for cataract surgery… some say the earlier the better, some say wait till cataract ripens some more!
Now comes some cheering news. Give or take a few more years every medical cabinet may be stocked with what is called a bottle of lanosterol eye drops — to melt away cataract formation! Yes, you heard right. After all what are cataracts? It may interest you to know that cataract formation is courtesy proteins clumping together in the lens of the eyes so that vision becomes cloudy.
Apparently, during youth a substance called lanosterol is produced naturally in the eyes to protect against cataract formation, but with aging process it diminishes and cataracts start forming. But now scientists in a breakthrough say it is possible to administer inexpensive lanosterol drops into the eyes to melt away cataracts over a phased period. Research is on and excitement is building up about lanosterol eye drops have worked in the case of elderly dogs and…er…rabbits.
It is researcher Kang Zhang, an ophthalmologist, who came up with the idea of eye drops after he treated two young children with cataracts…and the University of California, San Diego, has given the verdict that if lanosterol occurs naturally in the human eye it should be safe to use as a chemical drug… the first clinical trials will happen in the next one or two years.
Clara Eaglen of the Royal National Institute of Blind People, says in the British `Daily Mail’: `This is an exciting scientific development and has expanded our knowledge of how cataracts develop….Anything that removes the need for invasive surgery will be hugely beneficial to patients. If eye drops could be self-administered, this would remove the burden on eye clinics. Of course extensive trials are required to establish whether lanosterol can be used safely and effectively.’
In lieu of today’s cataract surgery which though by and large a safe process, can on rare occasions go wrong leaving one with retinal damage blindness forever. In this context we hope these lanosterol eye drops come to India soon! They will be a real boon.


JUDGING by oncologist Dr Shekar Salkar and Ashim Sanyal (CEO, Delhi-based `Consumer Voice’), who were here for one of their National Organization for Tobacco Eradication (NOTE) interaction meets at the International Centre Goa on April 6, 2018, they are finally getting somewhere with all the horrific pictorial health warnings on tobacco packages of cigarettes in India! If you’re a smoker you must have seen these pictures which should make you drop your cigarette promptly.
Reportedly, hardcore adult smokers may be blasé and immune to the graphic horror pictorials of oral cancer depicted on cigarette cartons, but the younger generation is more sensitive and avoiding the temptation to pick up a cigarette — no matter how much they may want to live life king size! There are other less harmful ways of living the good life. Now the powers-that-be have decided to make the pictorial put-offs even more horrifying (if that is possible) and they’ll also go onto beedi packets which the poorer classes of society patronize.
From the sound of it the recently released Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2016-17 by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has put to rest all apprehensions about the effectiveness of the pictorial warnings, “since 62% of cigarette smokers and 54% of bidi smokers shared that they had thought of quitting because of the 85% pictorial warnings on the packets,” said Ashim Sanyal.
We must know there are 4,000 ingredients present in tobacco which are cause for all kinds cancers. To quote Dr Salkar, “Tobacco not only causes direct cancer but also effects various other organs causing peptic ulcer, esophagus cancer, prostrate, urinary bladder and pancreas….” In a country like India where people speak several languages and dialects, pictorial warnings transcend language and illiteracy barriers. Young and old know that tobacco consumption in any form is bad news for their health (even if the irony is that most in our poorer classes take to tobacco smoking or chewing to kill hunger pangs).
Anyway, `Consumer Voice’ and the Consumer Association of India has welcomed the Health Ministry’s decision to replace existing images on tobacco products with a new set of 86% pictorial health warnings for mandatory display on both sides of cigarette, bidi and chewing tobacco packets from September 1, 2018. For the first time a Quit Line number too is to be printed on all tobacco products.
Whether you know it or not as per the latest Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) about 28.6% of adults (267 million people) aged 15 or above use tobacco in some form in India. Out of this about 100 million adults smoke tobacco, and 200 million people use smokeless tobacco in India; despite tobacco control interventions, health and economic costs due to tobacco use has increased enormously. Coming to Goa, GATS survey (2016-17) indicates that out of a total population 4.2% smoke tobacco and 9.5% use smokeless tobacco in Goa.
Cause for worry are the increasing number of women who take up smoking and children who find tobacco products so easily with the small candy-cookie vendor shops near their schools! Dr Salkar who is championing the tobacco control initiatives in Goa detailed several instances of violation of laws and said that work needs to be amplified to reach Goa’s people and get them to participate in process of tobacco crackdown especially where the young student population is concerned. Small eats’ vendors near educational institutions should not be permitted to retail tobacco products too.
We wish that valuable nutritional inputs would go hand in hand with tobacco eradication programs by way of preventive health care. Alas, as with everything else in this country, the tobacco lobbies too — pro and anti – are politicized with financial gains all around; no one is addressing the root of the evil – the cultivation of tobacco.

OUR friend Ida Mukherjee shared these tidbits about how to recognize a stroke. There are several indicators to do with blood clot/stroke and a fourth indicator, the tongue. Okay, imagine this scenario.
During a BBQ, a woman stumbled and took a little fall – she assured everyone that she was fine. They offered to call paramedics but she said she had adjusted and just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food. Whiole she appeared a bit shaken up, Jane went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Later Jane’s husband called to say his wife was taken to the hospital at 6pm where she passed away. She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ.
Had anyone present there been aware of how to recognize the symptoms of a stroke, perhaps Jane would have been alive! According to a neurologist if he can get to a stroke victim within three hours he can reverse its effects…totally. More folk should learn how to recognize someone having a stroke and promptly getting the patient to a hospital within three hours. Medical care is invaluable within this time limit and work wonders in helping a stroke patient.
How to recognize a stroke? Sometimes we are not keenly aware about the symptoms which may be difficult to identify, depending on how sharp our observation powers are! It is this lack of awareness which leads to someone’s death. When people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke, the stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage. Some don’t die; instead they end up in a helpless, hopeless condition.
According to doctors bystanders may recognize a stroke happening by asking three simple questions. Remember the first three letters of STROKE – S…T…R.
S – Ask the individual to smile
T – Ask the person to talk and speak a simple sentence coherently, for example, `I want some chicken soup!’
R – Ask the person to raise both arms
If the person is in trouble with anyone of these three tasks, call an emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms for prompt guidance on what to do further before going to hospital.
And there one other sign of a stroke: Stick our your tongue. Ask the person to stick our his or her tongue. If the tongue is crooked, if it goes to one side or other, that is also an indication of a stroke.
Share this bit of information with others if you care …you never know when you may be able to save a life!

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