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
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’
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