In the news
May was Vision Month – Baby Boomers take notice!
Vision is critical to survival so it’s no wonder that we flinch when something comes close to our eyes and that the cornea is so sensitive to any foreign material.
On the other hand, chronic conditions that could lead to severe visual impairment, especially as we get older, often don’t give us any warning symptoms. For that reason everyone should have a vision exam by an ophthalmologist starting at the age of forty; for African-Americans it should start at twenty (!), especially if there is a family history of glaucoma. The reason? Glaucoma can progress with few symptoms until there has been some loss of vision.
Glaucoma is usually – but not always – due to an increase of pressure within the eyeball. It causes a loss of peripheral vision and it may be so gradual that we hardly notice. Persons with diabetes, high blood pressure, overweight and low thyroid function are especially at risk.
In the next Carvings blogs we’ll discuss some other conditions that sneak up on us, and some eye symptoms that actually are signs of serious disease.
Are we and our kids getting too many vaccines?
Most American children get nearly fifty shots – vaccines – by the time they start first grade. Doctors are pushing seniors to get several vaccines as well. The question often comes up: do all those vaccines interfere with each other? Can they actually weaken our immune system? Are they harmful?
It’s true that vaccines sometimes have nasty, even fatal, side effects but deaths are extremely rare and most are due to two reasons. First, some children are born with severely deficient immune systems and when they receive a live vaccine virus their body may be overwhelmed by even such a weakened virus. When most of us were kids we got the smallpox vaccine and did just fine but it was fatal in kids with severe immunodeficiency.
The second reason is now very rare: defective or contaminated vaccines. Some of us remember “the Cutter incident” in which polio vaccine virus was not killed but survived to infect several thousand children. Fifty-six developed paralysis and five died.
Diseases that I saw regularly early in my days as a pediatrician have simply vanished. Today’s pediatricians will probably never see meningitis due to a bacterium known as Hemophilus, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) due to mumps or chickenpox, congenital rubella syndrome that caused infants to be blind, deaf and severely brain-damaged. They will never see polio, which affected some of my classmates.
Some vaccines have barely a tenth of the chemicals that occur in the natural germs. Some vaccines are prepared in yeast cells; some are made from small portions of benign bacteria. The natural germs that have been eliminated by these vaccines contained orders of magnitude more ingredients than the vaccines.
Do you know of a child who had a severe reaction to something like the measles vaccine? Consider this: that reaction may indicate that the child might have been the one child out of a thousand in the pre-vaccine era who died or suffered severe brain damage from natural measles. That reaction may indicate increased susceptibility.
In the next Carvings blog I’ll discuss vaccines for adults. You’re going to be surprised!