Dr Penny Adams an­swers your ques­tions

DR PENNY ADAMS AD­VISES ON EYE HEALTH, THE BEN­E­FITS OF EX­ER­CISE FOR THE MIND AND WHY BONE HEALTH IS IM­POR­TANT FOR OLDER MEN

Good Health Choices - - Content -

Some­times when I look at a blank page, I see lit­tle black streaks that seem to move. Should I get this checked?

A It sounds like you have oc­u­lar floaters. They are caused by con­den­sa­tion of col­la­gen and other chem­i­cals in the gel-like fluid in your eye. As you age, the gel shrinks and clumps can form within it. These clumps cast shad­ows on the retina called ‘floaters’, earn­ing their name by their ten­dency to move around your vi­sion and

dart away with eye move­ments. They typ­i­cally present be­tween the ages of 50 and 75 years, but if the on­set is sud­den, as­so­ci­ated with eye or head trauma or oc­cur with flashes of light, it could be a sign of a

reti­nal de­tach­ment and needs ur­gent re­view by an eye spe­cial­ist.

My baby grand­daugh­ter is three weeks old and she has de­vel­oped a straw­berry nae­vus – about the size of a pea – on her fore­head. Will this be per­ma­nent?

A Straw­berry naevi (known med­i­cally as in­fan­tile hae­man­giomas) are very com­mon, oc­cur­ring in four per cent of ba­bies. They usu­ally de­velop in the first weeks of life, start­ing as a red or bruise-like stain in the skin, grow higher (but don’t spread out­wards) for a few months and then grad­u­ally, over the next cou­ple of years dis­ap­pear. The ma­jor­ity of in­fan­tile hae­man­giomas will in­vo­lute (dis­ap­pear) with no treat­ment and do not leave a scar. Oc­ca­sion­ally, very large hae­man­giomas are treated with an old-fash­ioned heart med­i­ca­tion called pro­pra­nolol.

Your grand­daugh­ter should be checked by her doc­tor how­ever, from your de­scrip­tion, her straw­berry nae­vus is un­likely to re­quire treat­ment.

Can men de­velop os­teo­poro­sis? My dad is 75 years old and seems to be get­ting shorter and more stooped.

A It’s of­ten mis­con­ceived as a dis­ease that only af­fects women, but os­teo­poro­sis is a ma­jor health prob­lem in older men – one third of all os­teo­porotic frac­tures oc­cur in men.

Men aged over 70, with a past his­tory of a min­i­mal trauma frac­ture and hor­monal treat­ment for prostate can­cer are at risk. Your dad should be as­sessed by his GP with tests in­clud­ing an x-ray of his spine and a bone min­eral den­sity test. There are safe and ef­fec­tive treat­ments for men.

Is it true that ex­er­cise helps in the treat­ment of de­pres­sion?

A Yes, stud­ies have shown that reg­u­lar ex­er­cise is as ef­fec­tive as SSRI med­i­ca­tion (a type of an­tide­pres­sant med­i­ca­tion that works on the neuro-trans­mit­ter sero­tonin) in mild to mod­er­ate de­pres­sion. In terms of pre­ven­ta­tive health, a re­cent study of al­most 300,000 in­di­vid­u­als (pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Psy­chi­a­try) showed that reg­u­lar ex­er­cise (150 min­utes per week) was con­sis­tently as­so­ci­ated with a much lower risk of de­vel­op­ing de­pres­sion. So, when it comes to your men­tal health, ex­er­cise is ef­fec­tive both as a pre­ven­ter and a treat­ment.

‘They typ­i­cally present be­tween 50 and 75’

If you’d like one of our ex­perts to an­swer your ques­tion, email it to good­health@bauer­me­dia.co.nz. No cor­re­spon­dence will be en­tered into.

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