Mayo Clinic's July issue offers tips on ophthalmology, Alzheimer's and CKD

Here are highlights from the July issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource. You may cite this publication as often as you wish. Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource attribution is required. Reprinting is allowed for a fee. Include the following subscription information as your editorial policies permit: Visit www.bookstore.mayoclinic.com or call toll-free for subscription information, 1-800-876-8633, extension 9751.

“It's best to wear sunglasses any time you're outside and need sun protection”

Shopping for Sunglasses? Look for UV Labels

For shielding eyes from sunlight, not all sunglasses are created equal. In the July issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource, Amir Khan, M.D., Mayo Clinic ophthalmologist, discusses some considerations for purchasing sunglasses to help ensure good eye health.

Ultraviolet (UV) light rays from the sun not only can damage the skin, they can also harm the eyes. Long-term exposure to UV light increases the risk of cataracts, a clouding of the eye's lens. Some experts believe UV rays increase the risk of macular degeneration, a chronic disease that affects the central vision.

Sunglasses are an easy and effective way to protect against UV rays. "It's best to wear sunglasses any time you're outside and need sun protection," says Dr. Khan. He offers tips for purchasing sunglasses:

  • Label check: Look for sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB, the two types of UV rays found in sunlight. The sunglasses should block 99 to 100 percent of these rays. If the label or sticker has no UV information, it's probably best to look for a different pair.
  • Price: The cost of sunglasses is most often a function of fashion. Higher price doesn't mean better UV protection.
  • Glare reduction: Polarized lenses can cut the glare that reflects off water or snow -- a feature many people appreciate. But glare reduction doesn't equal UV protection. Check the label for both features.
  • Lens color: The color or darkness of the lenses doesn't indicate UV protection. In fact, the coating that blocks UV light is clear.
  • Good fit: Wraparound glasses or sunglasses that fit closely around the eyes will block the most UV rays.

Deciphering Dementia: Many Disorders can Cause Loss of Brain Function 

 Occasional misplaced keys or forgotten names don't mark the beginning of dementia. All dementia isn't Alzheimer's disease. Some dementia symptoms can be reversed. Those facts and many more are covered in Deciphering Dementia, a supplemental Special Report to the July issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource.

The report provides in-depth coverage of the causes, risk factors, diagnoses and treatment options for dementia. Some highlights from the report include:

Types and causes of dementia: While Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia in people 65 and older, there are many other causes. For example, vascular dementia results from stroke. Lewy body dementia occurs when abnormal round structures called Lewy bodies develop in regions of the brain involved with thinking, movement and sleep. Visual hallucinations can be the first sign of this type of dementia.

Infections such as meningitis and encephalitis can cause dementia symptoms, and so can leukemia and multiple sclerosis. Depression can cause people to appear slow, confused or forgetful. In these situations, symptoms of dementia may improve with treatment for the underlying disease.

Ways to protect the brain: Lowering cholesterol or blood pressure levels can help thwart the buildup of plaques in arteries and can help prevent stroke, one of the major causes of vascular dementia. Some research has indicated that statin drugs, which help lower cholesterol, may help lower dementia risk.

Other protective strategies include keeping the mind active, being physically and socially active and eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids found in certain fish and nuts.

What's normal memory loss and what isn't: Occasional lapses in memory are different from the type of memory loss associated with dementia. Needing directions when driving to a place visited only occasionally is normal. Losing one's way driving home from a familiar location, such as the grocery store, is not.

When dementia-like symptoms start to become a concern, it's time to see a physician. Memory loss and other dementia symptoms have many causes, so diagnosis can be a challenge. Nevertheless, early and accurate diagnosis allows for treatment that might help reverse, lessen or delay the progression of symptoms.

Diabetes, High Blood Pressure are Leading Causes of Kidney Damage

People with diabetes and high blood pressure need to take care of their kidneys. According to the July issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource, chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a growing problem in the United States. The most common causes are diabetes and high blood pressure.

Kidneys are bean-shaped organs that remove excess fluid and waste material from the blood. Kidney function can easily be taken for granted, but it's dangerous to do so. The kidneys keep the body's level of salt, potassium, phosphorous and calcium in balance. They release hormones that help the body regulate blood pressure, make red blood cells and form strong bones.

When kidneys are damaged, the filtering ability is impaired, and fluid and waste accumulate in the body. CKD can lead to kidney failure and the need for kidney dialysis or transplant. CKD also can lead to other health problems such as anemia, weakened bones and cardiovascular disease. Even a small loss of kidney function can double the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Individuals with diabetes, high blood pressure or other risk factors should work with a physician to monitor kidney health. CKD symptoms may not be noticed until kidneys are severely damaged. Tests are available that can aid in early detection and allow for treatments that often can keep the problem from getting worse. Urine tests can help determine an excess amount of protein in the urine, which may mean the kidney's filtering ability has been damaged by disease. Blood tests can check for creatine, a waste product that builds up in the blood when the kidneys aren't working properly. Rising blood pressure is a sign that damage has already occurred.

CKD has no cure, but treatment can help reduce complications and slow disease progression. Treatment includes controlling the underlying condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure; cutting back on protein in the diet and avoiding substances that can further damage kidneys, such as some over-the-counter pain relievers, oral preparations used for colonoscopy and contrast dyes used with some imaging exams.

Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource is published monthly to help women enjoy healthier, more productive lives. Revenue from subscriptions is used to support medical research at Mayo Clinic. To subscribe, please call 1-800-876-8633, extension 9751, (toll-free) or visit www.bookstore.mayoclinic.com.

Source : Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource

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