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What Is Lazy Eye? Binocular Visual Stimulation, Sleep May Solve Common Vision Problem In Children



Lazy Eye

Lazy eye, a common vision problem in children, could be treated with visual stimuli presented to both eyes, followed by appropriately timed sleep, a new study has found.

Amblyopia or lazy eye is a type of poor vision that usually happens in just one eye, rarely in both eyes, due to abnormal visual development early in life. It is the leading cause of decreased vision among children.

The condition occurs when one eye becomes weaker than the other during childhood, and the brain favors the better eye. This results in the further worsening of the eye over time.

A child may develop the condition from birth up to age seven. It is estimated that three out of 100 children have amblyopia.

What are the signs of a lazy eye?

  • Tendency to bump into things on a particular side a lot
  • A large difference in nearsightedness or farsightedness between the two eyes
  • The child favors one side of the body
  • Poor depth perception
  • Have crossed eyes
  • Have a droopy eyelid
  • Frequent squinting of an eye
  • Frequently tilting head to one side

What causes lazy eye?

Studies have shown babies born prematurely, have low birth weight, have a family history of amblyopia or other eye conditions and have other developmental disabilities are at a higher risk of having a lazy eye.

1. Refractive errors: When one eye has much better focus than the other, which has poor vision due to refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, the brain gets both a blurry image and a clear one. The brain then starts to ignore the blurry image. When this continues for a long period, the blurry eye gets worse over time.

2. Strabismus: This occurs when the eyes point in two different directions; one focused straight while the other turns in, out, up or down. When the eyes are not aligned straight, the child may see a double image. The brain then ignores the image from the eye that is not aligned, which may affect the development of that eye.

3. Cataracts: Some children are born with a cataract, a condition that causes the lens of the eyes to be cloudy. The eye that has a cataract might not develop the way it should.

4. Droopy eyelid (ptosis): A droopy eyelid can block vision and lead to amblyopia.


The treatment for amblyopia generally focuses on making the child use the weaker eye. This is often done by putting a patch over the child’s stronger eye and in some cases, by using eye drops to blur vision in the stronger eye.

In some patients, wearing eyeglasses is enough to fix amblyopia as it can correct refractive issues like nearsightedness, farsightedness and eye crossing.

Binocular vision and sleep

The latest study, conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan, found that binocular visual stimulation, which involves seeing with both eyes together, resulted in greater brain plasticity. It suggested treatment therapy, which requires both eyes to work together, might help more than patching therapy in treating lazy eyes.

The findings also showed appropriately timed sleep can help neural networks in the brain repair or restructure themselves, which again helps in treatment.

Researchers found that giving visual stimuli to both eyes, rather than the weaker eye alone, helped mice with amblyopia recover their visual function. When the mice were allowed to sleep right after their enriched visual experience, the results were better.

“First, our findings suggest that patching therapy, which has been used routinely for several decades, may be inferior to more recently developed methods aimed at making the eyes work together. Second, it suggests that paying attention to the timing of children’s sleep with respect to this therapy, something that is easy to implement, may have an outsized benefit with regard to therapeutic potential,” Sara Aton, a lead author of the study, said.

Movies designed to treat lazy eyes may be used as a future therapy for children.
Photo courtesy of Retina Foundation of the Southwest

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Feeling Tired All The Time? Possible Causes And Solutions



tired office worker

Long days of work, lack of sleep, and stress at the office can be the most common factors that make you feel tired. However, feeling “tired all the time” (TATT) without known reasons can be an indication of an underlying health issue that needs immediate attention.

Finding the exact cause of the lingering tiredness can be the first step toward solving the symptom.

Health conditions that cause fatigue:

1. Anemia – Anemia is one of the most common causes of fatigue. A person who has anemia does not have enough red blood cells in the body, causing symptoms such as tiredness, dizziness, feeling cold and crankiness.

Most often, anemia is caused by iron deficiency. Hence, the condition can be best resolved by including iron-rich foods in the diet and use of iron supplements.

2. Sleep Apnea – It causes the body to stop breathing momentarily during sleep. The condition can affect the quality of sleep and hence make you feel fatigued.

For milder cases of sleep apnea, lifestyle changes such as losing weight or quitting smoking can help solve the sleep disorder. In more severe cases where there is an obstruction in breathing, surgeries and therapies can help.

3. Diabetes – A person who has diabetes has changes in blood sugar level, which can cause fatigue. A patient who is already on diabetic medication can also experience tiredness as a side effect of the medication.

Early identification and taking the correct treatment is the key to managing diabetes. Losing extra weight and having a healthy diet also help in the treatment.

4. Thyroid – Thyroid diseases can be due to an overactive or an underactive thyroid gland. In people who have an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), the metabolism slows down leading to symptoms such as lethargy and fatigue. In people with an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), the metabolism speeds up leading to fatigue and difficulty sleeping.

Right diet and lifestyle choices, along with medications, can help in thyroid management.

5. Infections – A person can show symptoms of fatigue when the body is fighting a viral or bacterial infection. Infections ranging from the flu to HIV can cause tiredness.

Along with fatigue, other symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, shortness of breath and appetite loss can also accompany the infection. Treating the symptoms and taking adequate rest helps in faster recovery.

6. Food allergies – Fatigue may be an early warning sign of hidden food allergies and autoimmune disorders such as celiac disease. Identifying the allergen using a food allergy test or through an elimination diet can help in allergy treatment.

7. Heart disease – If you feel exhausted from an activity that used to be easy, then it is good to check your heart health, as fatigue can be an indication of underlying heart disease.

8. Depression/ anxiety – Fatigue can also be an indicator of a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety. A combination of medication and psychotherapy can help relieve symptoms.

Lifestyle causes

Apart from serious health conditions, certain lifestyle habits such as dehydration, poor diet, stress and insufficient sleep can cause exhaustion. Having a well-balanced diet, regular exercise and routine sleep can help solve fatigue caused by lifestyle habits.

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How To Overcome Your Sleep Debt And Reclaim Energy




Picture this: you’re burning the midnight oil, studying or binge-watching your favorite shows, all at the expense of a good night’s sleep. Have you ever stopped to think about the toll it takes on your body and mind? The consequences can be more serious than you might realize.

Not getting enough sleep can translate into a multitude of issues, including weight gain, lack of focus, tiredness, a haze of confusion, and even depression. If you too are encountering similar issues lately then chances are you have a sleep debt.

Wondering what is sleep debt?

People from 13-18 years of age need 8 hours of sleep, whilst adults beyond that age will require at least 7 hours of snooze.

Sleep debt is a collection of the total hours you haven’t slept or traded your sleep for something else. Sleep debt keeps piling up as a person falls short of the total hours of sleep recommended for an adult, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And when you keep letting go of your sleep for other activities, the body adapts to the new normal and effects start to reflect on the energy levels, which deplete.

“However, like every other debt out there, this too has a repayment option,” Dr. Kunal Kumar, medical director of the Sleep Center at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, told Livestrong.

Below are some expert-vetted ways you can pay back the sleep debt. (Courtesy: Livestrong and Sleepfoundation)

Just like financial debt, imagine sleep debt as a debt you owe to your body. It needs to be repaid. The good news is that catching up on sleep is indeed possible.

  • Maintain a set sleep schedule: Overhauling the sleep schedule is a pretty difficult task to achieve, and it’s best to do that gradually. Create a set sleep schedule by making some small changes to your routine. Instead of making abrupt shifts in your bedtime or wake-up time, adjust them gradually by 15 to 30-minute increments.
  • Minimize your gadget usage: Wind down activities and minimize electronic usage before bed to promote better sleep. Relax and prepare for quality sleep by dimming the lights and setting an alarm for 30 minutes to an hour before bed.
  • Reshuffle your sleeping arrangements: Are you finding it hard to get a good night’s sleep due to excessive sweating? Well, here’s a handy solution: consider upgrading to a cooling mattress or opting for cooling sheets. These innovative sleep essentials can help regulate your body temperature, and keep you comfortably cool throughout the night, ensuring a more blissful slumber. Memory foam pillows can work wonders in relieving neck and back discomfort in case you are struggling with backache.
  • Improve the bedroom environment: Create a sleep-friendly bedroom environment by adjusting the temperature for comfort, and blocking out disruptive lights, or noises that might disturb your restful slumber. And if your mattress, pillow, or sheets are worn out or no longer providing the support you need, consider treating yourself to new ones.

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids Slow The Progression Of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: Study




Omega-3 fatty acids are known for a range of health benefits, from promoting brain and heart health to reducing inflammation and protection against several chronic conditions.

In a new study, researchers found that omega-3 acids, especially the type found in foods like flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds, canola oil and soybean oil, can slow down the progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

It is a debilitating nervous system disease that gradually worsens over time and can be fatal. The condition results in a loss of muscle control and affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the baseball player who was diagnosed with it.

The initial symptoms of the disease include muscle weakness, difficulty in walking and hand movements. The symptoms can slowly progress to difficulties with chewing, swallowing, speaking and breathing.

The exact cause of ALS is not known. However, around 10% of people get it from a risk gene passed down from a family member. It is estimated that more than 32,000 people in the U.S. live with the condition.

In the latest study, researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Massachusetts evaluated 449 people living with ALS in a clinical trial. The team assessed the severity of their symptoms, the progression of their disease, along with the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood, for 18 months.

The study suggested that alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 found in plants, is particularly beneficial in slowing the progression of ALS. The participants with the highest levels of ALA had a 50% reduced risk of death during the study period compared to those with the lowest levels of ALA.

Researchers also found a reduction in death risk in participants who had eicosapentaenoic acid, the type of omega-3 fatty acid found in fatty fish and fish oil, and linoleic acid found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.

A previous study conducted by the same team suggested that a diet high in ALA and higher blood levels of the nutrient could reduce the risk of developing the condition.

“In this study, we found that among people living with ALS, higher blood levels of ALA were also associated with a slower disease progression and a lower risk of death within the study period. These findings, along with our previous research suggest that this fatty acid may have neuroprotective effects that could benefit people with ALS,” said Kjetil Bjornevik, the lead author of the study.

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