As someone who wears glasses, the idea of corrective laser eye surgery is certainly tempting. But then you start reading about how the invasive surgery is actually performed, along with some of (admittedly rare) risks, and suddenly glasses don’t seem so bad. Things could change, however, thanks to research coming out of Columbia University. Researchers there have developed a new noninvasive laser eye surgery which could permanently correct vision — minus any of the less pleasant-sounding aspects of regular laser surgery.
“The main difference between our approach and commonly used refractive surgeries is that in our method there is no flap cutting and no ablation,” Sinisa Vukelic, a researcher on the project, told Digital Trends. “Patients with thin corneas and other abnormalities that make them ineligible for refractive surgery could be treated with the proposed treatment, which in turn increases the population of eligible patients.”
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The new methods involve something called a femtosecond oscillator, an ultrafast laser capable of delivering pulses of low energy very quickly. Using this laser, it’s possible to change the biochemical and biomechanical properties of the eye’s corneal tissue. Unlike laser-assisted corrective surgeries like Lasik, this can be done without thinning — and thereby potentially weakening — the cornea. Instead, the procedure involves using the laser to ionize the water molecules within the cornea. This creates a reaction oxygen molecule which interacts with collagen fibrils to selectively form “crosslinks” or chemical bonds that change the eye’s properties. Doing this can alter the overall corneal curvature of the eye, modifying its refractive power in order to correct the patient’s vision.
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Quick rise in young people with Type 2 diabetes is alarming
Hundreds of young people are being treated for Type 2 diabetes, a 41% rise in just four years.
The condition occurs when the body cannot make enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.
It is often linked to obesity and is most commonly seen in adults, where it can lead to a range of health problems such as heart disease and strokes.
Some 715 people under the age of 25 received treatment for the disease in England and Wales during 2016/17 and 78.6% of them were obese.
The number of cases is up from the 507 registered in 2013/14, according to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
But the true number may be much higher, as the RCPCH recorded only those young people being treated in paediatric units, not by a GP.
Professor Russell Viner, president of the RCPCH, said: “A rise in Type 2 diabetes of this magnitude is alarming and shows that the childhood obesity epidemic is starting to bite.
“It’s also concerning that we might not be seeing the full picture.”
The Local Government Association, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, said more support was needed, especially for obese children and ethnic minorities, as almost half of those treated in 2016/17 were black or Asian.
Izzi Seccombe, chairwoman of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said: “These figures are a sad indictment of how we have collectively failed as a society to tackle childhood obesity, one of the biggest health challenges we face.”
She called for “urgent action”, saying: “Type 2 diabetes can be a lifelong debilitating illness and these figures will only multiply if we delay.
A new way to ‘freeze’ water
Freezing can be a great way of preserving assorted foodstuffs or biological tissues and organs, but it’s not without its risks. The formation of sharp ice crystals can damage cell membranes, while the defrosting process comes with its own potential dangers.