DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Is it possible to get wet macular degeneration from a scratch on the left eye during cataract surgery, or could it have been a cyst that caused wet macular degeneration? I am 85, and my right eye is perfect. I had cataract surgery on that eye also. — C.
ANSWER: A scratch on the eye isn’t likely to cause macular degeneration. The possibility of cataract surgery leading to macular degeneration is a remote one.
More than 6,000 people who had had a cataract removed were followed for five years after the operation. Slightly more people who had the operation developed macular degeneration, dry or wet, in the operated eye than did a similar group of people who had not had an operation.
This isn’t proof that cataract surgery leads to macular degeneration. The same risks that cause cataracts also cause macular degeneration. The numbers that do develop it after cataract removal are small. A cause-and-effect relationship has not been proven.
I am not clear what you mean by a cyst causing the degeneration. In what part of the eye was the cyst? I have not seen a link between cysts and macular degeneration.
The retina is the back layer of the eye, the layer that converts incoming images into nerve signals that can be transmitted to the brain so we can see. The macula is a small, round area of the retina where there’s an aggregation of cells that are essential for central vision — the kind of vision needed to read a paper, watch TV and drive.
Dry macular degeneration, accounting for 85 percent to 90 percent of cases, is a wasting away of macular cells.
Wet macular degeneration results from a sprouting of blood vessels in that region. Those newly formed blood vessels leak fluid and destroy macular vision. Procedures are available that can halt the progression of wet macular degeneration.
The booklet on macular degeneration explains both kinds and what is available to help those with this common eye problem. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 701W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I need some basic facts about the pulse. First, what’s considered a normal rate? I have trouble finding my pulse. I feel all over my wrist, but it’s hard for me to detect. Is there some other place where I can feel it better? — C.M.
ANSWER: The pulse rate and the rate of the heartbeat are one and the same. When the heart beats, it ejects blood into arteries. The force of that ejection runs down all artery walls and is the pulse beat. A normal pulse (or heart rate) is 60 to 100 beats a minute.
You feel the pulse on the thumb side of the wrist. Maybe you’re pressing too hard and obliterating it. If you can’t find it there, you can feel it in the neck, slightly below the angle of the jaw. Or you can put your hand over your heart and count the heartbeats.
Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.
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