Archive for April, 2012

The Eyes Have It: Diagnosing Physical Ailments Through Iridology

When you stare into someone’s eyes, what do you see?

Hope? Fear? Love? Arthritis? Stress? Poor kidney function?
If the last three examples seem a little strange, don’t worry. You’re probably just unfamiliar with iridology, a diagnostic/preventative technique practiced by some advocates of holistic medicine.

Trained practitioners of the method claim that they can examine an individual’s irises (the colored part of the eye that surrounds the pupil) and identify potential health problems or weaknesses in the body’s systems.

(And I’ve been relying all these years on x-rays, blood pressure cuffs, and getting poked with lots and lots of needles.)
The Eye Bone is Connected to The Leg Bone

Iridology is based on the idea that organs of the body are intricately connected and that a problem in one organ can be identified or treated via another organ. This notion is not uncommon in holistic health practice: Reflexology, for example, is based on “mapping” the feet, with each area of the foot corresponding to another body system. Using his or her understanding of foot-mapping, a reflexologist may treat a client’s sinus problems by manipulating the fourth and pinkie toes of the client’s right foot.

The (disputed) legend behind the introduction of “clinical iridology” into the Western world is that a boy named Ignaz von Peczely, accidentally broke an owl’s leg while attempting to free him from a vine. Von Peczely noted that when the owl’s leg broke, a streak appeared in the owl’s iris. When von Peczely became an adult and started to practice medicine, he encountered a patient with a broken leg whose iris had the same streak in the same position, indicating a connection between the appearance of the iris and the condition of other parts of the body.

Eventually, other healthcare practitioners decided to run with the technique and develop their own spin on mapping the iris, offering health advice to clients who are willing to sit for a close-up and personal examination of their eyes.


What the Experts Say

Not surprisingly, many medical experts are quite skeptical of iridology as a diagnostic tool. In fact, mention iridology in a room full of medical doctors, particularly those with skeptical natures,  and you are likely to endure sustained howls of indignation.


The scientific literature, these killjoys claim, doesn’t support iridology as a valid diagnostic method. They also point out that the iris generally doesn’t change much as people age, unless it undergoes some kind of trauma. If the iris accurately reflects a person’s health, it would constantly change in response to chronic and acute health conditions.


(In other words, while an examination of the iris of your right eye can tell you something about the iris of your right eye, it won’t tell you anything about dysfunctions in your big toe, left shoulder or even your left eye.)


Finding an Iridologist

This is where it gets tricky, at least in the United States. See, state government officials typically take the practice of medicine rather seriously. So seriously, that if you plan to diagnose someone’s health problems, you need to earn a license in a recognized health care profession.


(While some iridologists claim to offer only an analysis of a person’s health, not a diagnosis of disease, the definitions of “analysis” vs. “diagnosis” can get mighty murky.)


Now it is true that some licensed medical doctors/osteopathic physicians, naturopaths and chiropractors do practice iridology, although the practice is more common among chiropractors and naturopaths, themselves practitioners of alternative healthcare modalities. Check out alternative medical clinics in your area to find out if iridology is among its offerings.


The other option is to work with an iridologist who doesn’t have any medical qualifications.  As one writer notes, these practitioners often give advice to their clients that resembles that given by any health care professional (eating a balanced diet, keeping hydrated, and getting regular exercise). Following this advice is generally wise, though be cautious if they prescribe herbs or nutritional supplements on the basis of an iridology examination, as both can have an adverse effect on your health if used improperly.


One More Word of Warning

Eye problems are no laughing matter: If you do begin to see changes in your eyes, contact your doctor immediately.

Monday, April, 30 2012 by

Sports Eye Injuries and the Importance of Protective Eyewear

Sports are a good way to maintain a healthy body, but they do pose a certain amount of physical risk, for novices and experts alike, regardless of age. If you’re not worried about what could happen to your eyesight should you get hit by an errant sports ball, you might want to reconsider. April is Sports Eye Safety Month, so take the time to learn more about how to protect your eyes when you take part in any type of sports activity.

The Why

According to the National Eye Institute — part of the National Institutes of Health–, every 13 minutes an emergency room treats a sports related eye injury. The most eye injuries come from sports such as basketball, boxing, baseball, hockey, racquetball and lacrosse. However even sports such as biking and wrestling pose a risk, though it is lower.

Even if an eye injury doesn’t seem serious, it still can be. The American Academy of Ophthalmology states that if an eye that was hit begins to hurt or develops a vision problem then medical attention is necessary. A black eye should also be taken to have medical attention.

The How

Plan ahead to protect your eyes when you participate in sports by investing in eye protection gear such as sports glasses or sports goggles. Not to be confused with regular eyewear, sports glasses and sports goggles are designed to provide greater impact resistance. Each kind can be worn with contact lenses or have prescription lenses. Also, some sports goggles fit over regular glasses.

When buying a pair of sports glasses, pick a pair that is meant for the sport you engage in. Also pick a pair that will be physically comfortable to wear while you play. Aesthetics, though secondary, are also important – should your picture end up in the sports section you will want to look good.


The NIH states that using protective eyewear may keep your eyes from being injured up to 90% percent of the time. This could mean staying in the game rather than sitting it out. Beyond general safety, wearing sports glasses can influence your insurance rates. Fewer trips to the hospital or doctor’s office might mean smaller payments.

Sports Glasses and Children

Sports injuries are a common cause for blindness in children. The NIH along with other vision organizations recommend that coaches, teachers and parents make sure children wear protective eye gear during sports activities. It is also recommended that adults wear protective eye gear as an example to children, so that they will want to wear their eye gear as well.

Friday, April, 27 2012 by

Who Invented Glasses, Anyway?

It’s pretty easy to take normal, everyday things for granted. But have you ever wondered who invented glasses? It’s generally believed that monks or craftsmen in Italy produced the first form of glasses between 1285-1289. However, the name of the actual person who invented them is unknown. In 1306, a monk in Pisa, Italy named Giordano da Rivalto remarked in a sermon that he knew the man who created glasses, (“one of the most useful arts on earth”), but he failed to give the person’s name. It was Rivalto, however, who coined the term “occhiali” or “eyeglasses.”

As the story also seems to go, the man who invented glasses attempted to keep the idea a secret to avoid economic competition. But a monk in Pisa, Italy named Friar Alessandro Spina knew of the design and decided to make pairs of glasses himself and then distribute them to everyone. If that’s true, then we owe a big thank you to Friar Alessandro Spina for generously sharing them with the world.

Other interesting dates in the history of glasses:

1784: Benjamin Franklin invents bifocal lenses.
1799: John McAllister, Sr. opens America’s first optical shop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1800: The monocle is introduced in England.
1825: Sir George Airy designs the first lenses to correct astigmatism.
1826: John Hawkins introduces trifocal lenses.
1908: Dr. John Borsch, Jr. patents his fused bifocal lenses, which are thinner and more attractive than Franklin-style bifocals.

Glasses have come a long way – and taken some interesting turns – since the days of 13th century Italian monks. And while it would be great if the monocle suddenly came back into style, we don’t see that happening anytime soon. Luckily though, Zenni carries all of the latest styles and all at affordable prices. So whatever your style and whatever color frame you’re looking for, Zenni is here to help. Head on over to our website and check it out.

Thursday, April, 26 2012 by

How to Conquer Gravity (Weekly Optical Illusion Explained)

On Friday, we posted a video by YouTube user Brusspup that showed how to create the illusion of water freezing in mid-air. Is it a “glitch in the Matrix,” as CBS News referred to it as? No, it’s just simple science.

The sound waves from a speaker will cause water droplets to fall in a uniform pattern. When you combine that with a camera that follows the same frame rate, the droplet will appear to freeze in real air. As much as we’d love to say it’s a “glitch in the Matrix,” in reality – say the frame rate is 24 frames per second – while it seems as if the droplet is frozen in mid-air, 24 new droplets have actually fallen from the tube in a nearly identical shape and occupied an identical point in space every 1/24th of a second.

This is a similar illusion achieved by a strobe light. The number of times a strobe flashes per second corresponds with a camera’s frame rate, and the illusion succeeds because the human eye essentially functions like a camera. It processes vision by interpreting information from visible light to build a representation of the surrounding world. To explain that in layman terms, a good example is how movies are projected onto a screen. Frames of pictures are flashed across the screen rapidly in succession, and the human brain arranges these frames into a live-stream video. This is all thanks to two perceptual illusions – phi phenomenon and beta movement – or, more disputably, persistence of vision, the phenomenon where the eye retains a visual image for a fraction of a second after the source has been removed.

However, that isn’t the only effect the video shows. By changing the level of hertz from the speaker, you can also change the direction of the water flow (or at least the appearance of this). For example, if you tune the subwoofer to a lower frequency than the frame rate, the water will appear to flow backwards.

As Brusspop explains how to do the effect yourself:

“This is really simple but had such an awesome effect. Fill a bucket full of water and place it about 5 feet off the ground. Place a subwoofer about 1 foot lower than the bucket. Run a plastic tube from the top bucket down in front of the subwoofer. Tape the tube to the front of the speaker. Then aim the end of the tube to an empty bucket on the floor. Get the water flowing from the top bucket. Now just generate a 24 hz sine wave and set your camera to 24 fps and watch the magic happen. Basically your cameras frame rate is synced up with the rate of the vibrations of the water so it appears to be frozen or still. Now if you play a 23 hz sine wave your frame rate will be off just a little compared to the sine wave causing the water to “move backward” or so as it appears. You can play a 25 hz sine wave and cause the water to move slowly forward.”

So while the effect may all be in your head, everyone loves a good magic show – with a little help from science.

Tuesday, April, 24 2012 by

Seeing Red: Causes of Eye Irritation and Redness

As is true of many physical symptoms, the conditions that cause eye redness range from the pathetically benign (staying up past bedtime) to the decidedly dangerous (acute glaucoma).

(Fortunately for us, benign causes greatly outnumber the dangerous.)

As noted in Sun Gets in Your Eyes, eyes and eyelids are sensitive structures: Abuse them and you’ll see (and feel) the effects quickly. Stop the abuse, however, and your eyes will usually return to normal fairly quickly. The problem, however, is that some causes of eye redness don’t just go away: You may need to seek medical treatment to address an underlying condition.

Why You Should Be Concerned About Eye Redness

Two reasons:

1. Protecting Eye Health: Sure, your pinkish peepers may simply be the result of one too many late nights, but there are other causes of eye redness (see below) that can’t be cured by a good night’s sleep and, if left untreated, can cause vision loss.

2. Looking Pretty:  Forget about crow’s feet, nothing ages a person more dramatically than eye redness (and frankly, chronically bloodshot eyes can cause people to wonder about your personal habits). Since even mild redness can dull the whites of your eyes, getting treatment is important.

Eye Redness Causes

Below is a very partial list of conditions that may lead to eye redness. Again, a doctor’s visit is the best way to determine the reason for your condition as well as its proper treatment:

1. Conjunctivitis: Remember “pink eye” from your school days? This particularly disgusting affliction that not only made your eyes horribly bloodshot, but often caused them to ooze a nasty green pus, gluing your eyelids shut during the night.

While some forms of conjunctivitis are caused by allergies, and are thus non-contagious, conjunctivitis caused by viral or bacterial infection is another story. (Bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with antibiotics, while the viral version goes away on its own.)

Because bacterial/viral conjunctivitis is so catching, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions about returning to work or school while you recover.

2. Contaminated Makeup: While it’s tempting to scrape the last of your high-end mascara out of its tube or to resurrect that old eyeshadow pan that’s been hiding in your backpack, don’t. Contaminated eye makeup can lead to eye irritation and infection. Be safe and toss eye makeup after four to six months of use. If you do develop an eye infection, get rid of all your eye makeup to prevent re-contamination.

3. Environmental Factors:  Allergies to ragweed or pets, as well as exposure to environmental pollutants, can cause irritated, red eyes. Your doctor can run tests to diagnose allergies and may be able to prescribe soothing eye drops or an antihistamine to help manage your condition.

4. Occular Rosacea: Many people are familiar with rosacea, facial flushing that can result in a ruddy complexion and, in some cases, acne-like bumps on the skin. Sometimes this condition affects the eyes as well, causing red, dry eyes.

Like skin rosacea, occular rosacea often worsens over time and, if left untreated, sometimes contributes to vision loss. Doctors can prescribe antibiotics and eye drops to manage symptoms, though you will likely have to do your part and avoid rosacea triggers such as alcohol, spicy food, and hot beverages.

5. Acute Glaucoma: While glaucoma is often a slowly progressing disease, with symptoms worsening over time, it’s possible for the condition to come on suddenly. If you suddenly develop eye redness, develop visual disturbances such as seeking rainbow “halos” around objects or experience severe pain in an eye, seek medical care immediately.

Keep in mind that eye redness, while common, isn’t actually normal: When your eyes turn red, they are trying to tell you that something is amiss. Take action by taking stock of your lifestyle and, if necessary, getting help from a medical professional.

Monday, April, 23 2012 by