Monthly Archive for: ‘January, 2016’

Keep freshwater Fish – and drink their water – to protect from Glaucoma?

bobA recent study has found that people who have a diet higher in Nitrates are less likely to develop Glaucoma than those who do not.

Bear with me please……

My daughter and a friend caught a fish in a rock pool in Galway, and as part of the coercion to get her to return the poor creature from it’s precariously balanced, and obviously going to fall over bucket, to the rockpool, I agreed to get her a goldfish.

Parents- let them keep the poor creature in the bucket until it is dead! The goldfish have cost a serious amount of money over the past few years, though each one cost only about €3.50! She has hardly looked at the tank in months!

Having been thrown into fish-keeping, at the deep end!, I can tell you that it is a steep learning curve – whoever heard of Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate? This is the Nitrogen Cycle, where harmful fish toxins are converted to less harmful toxins by the filter in the tank (bowls are cruel – they are not big enough, and you didn’t know you definitely needed a filter, did you?) but the end product – Nitrates have to be removed by regular water changes, or a significant amount of live plants in the tank, most probably both. In the case of Goldfish, they will likely have eaten the plants before those plants get a chance to remove any Nitrate! Goldfish are usually people’s first time fish, but most definitely are not the best first time fish! They are messy and dirty creatures, but which Pet Shop will advise you of that? Betta’s are better, (or easier?), as long as you get their sex correct, else the females will be hounded to exhaustion in no time.

The end product of the Nitrogen Cycle is Nitrates, so – don’t just throw away all of those Nitrates in the tank – DRINK THE FISH WATER – it will protect you (perhaps) from developing Glaucoma – perhaps a 20 to 30% reduction?

There is another way to get Nitrate levels increased in your diet – leafy green vegetables are apparently full of the stuff – spinach, lettuce and kale, as are beets and carrots, but who would have read this post without the “Fish Hook”?

Fish keeping is a great way to de-stress, once the tank is established, but before that, you are in for a very, very stressful and tough ride! If you care about their welfare – the LAST thing to do do is purchase a fish!! (Check out the (almost) complete guide to fishless cycling, before you buy a fish!!)

Seriously, DO NOT DRINK FISH TANK WATER, I was only kidding!! – fish can harbour a good few diseases that can be passed to humans, including (rarely) TB, though it seems you will only probably get a skin infection, not more serious forms, perhaps unless you drink the water!?!

It once again shows that a balanced healthy diet and lifestyle may be the best way to prevent many common eye diseases – Glaucoma and Macular Degeneration come to mind straight away.

The full article can be read here – you may need to login or register, which is free.

Disclaimer – I don’t even know if the Nitrates (NO3-) the authors are mentioning are the same as in the tank waste water. I think so, but…..

Marine (salt water) fish, perhaps because they live in larger bodies of water, are much less tolerant to Nitrate, so the above “advice” doesn’t apply to them – the fish will be likely be dead before the Nitrates are significant, and we all know that drinking salty water is a bad idea – it will at least increase the blood pressure, which could increase the risk of Age Related Macular Degeneration.


An image of background Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetics – You should read this!

An image of background Diabetic retinopathy

Mild background Diabetic Changes

I had a lady in for an eye test today, complaining that her “glasses are not as good as they used to be”, a fairly common complaint. But nobody ever thinks that their eyes are not as good as they used to be- they always blame the spectacles.

This lady is a Type II diabetic, and ONCE has an issue when she felt unwell after being dilated with eye drops for retinal photography, so she has never had it done since!!

That was before 2009, though we are unsure when she may have had the issue. It was before we ever first saw her. I have since dilated her – in 2010, and she has no complaints about that, no recollection actually, but she is still of the opinion that the dilating drops “do not agree with her”, so she has not attended any of the National Diabetic Retinopathy Screening (NDRS) appointments that she has been asked (or invited??) to attend. She freely admits that, at the time she had a “touch” of vertigo, which may have been a contributory  issue. There are ways to ensure that the drops have little, if any effect on the body as a whole (side effects) – basically by squeezing on the punctae- little holes where the tears drain from in the eyelids near the nose – if we “occlude” those, there will  be little or no drug getting into the bloodstream only the eyes!

She was supposed to return to us in 2011 to have a dilated fundus exam, but she collected the spectacles, and confirmed she would make a convenient appointment, but despite reminders, she never did. We can only advise you to have checks, but no-one can make you! Now nearly 5 years later she is back, once again with complaints that her spectacles are not as good as they used to be.

Diabetic Eye disease is the most common cause of BLINDNESS in the developed world, and therefore should not be ignored (It won’t happen to me) – but it might. This lady has very small pupils, which significantly hampers the view into her eyes, but even if the view was not hindered, dilated fundus examination is important to visualise as much of the retina (the light sensitive layer at the back of the eye) as possible. Her GP and the National Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Service seem either unconcerned, or may be unaware of her non attendance.

Come ON folks – if the offer of free screening is available, you should take them up on it –  (they are not doing it to be nice to the you) – they are doing it because early detection and treatment SAVES MONEY! – Blindness costs the state an awful lot of money!

Personally, I would not really care how much the NDRS costs the HSE / government each year, nor how much money it might save the state – if it stopped ME from going blind, the entire screening program would have been money well spent! In my opinion.

But no-one can force you to have the required checks, though, this time she will not be getting her spectacles until she has been dilated and thoroughly examined!

Unfortunately, sometimes it is the only way – but she may never return to collect the spectacles…. You can lead a horse to water…….

Update: She was in, to collect her new spectacles, and dilated, and there were no signs of any significant diabetic changes to her retinae, but 5 years is a long time – Diabetics should have their eyes checked somewhere on at least an annual basis.


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