Thursday, October 19, 2017

Dry eye, other vision problems, affect women more than men - The Washington Post

At first, it felt like something was in her eye. Then her eyes turned red, watery and irritated. Her vision became blurry, and she found it difficult to read. It was painful to fly, and to be in air conditioning. Ilene Gipson, a scientist who studies eye disorders, didn't need a specialist to tell her what she had. "I knew what it was," she says.

Gipson had dry eye disease, an ailment that occurs when the eye does not produce enough tears, or when the tears evaporate too quickly. It is the most common eye problem that older women experience, and it disproportionately affects women: more than 3 million women vs. about 1.7 million men, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

And it's not the only one. Many eye disorders — some of them quite serious — seem to favor women over men.

"Women make up two-thirds of the people who are visually impaired or blind in the world," says Janine Clayton, an ophthalmologist who heads the office of research on women's health at the National Institutes of Health. "Most people would say, 'That can't be the case in the United States.' But it is. Unfortunately, we don't know why."

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Health care prices are the problem - Vox

On September 28, 2016, a 3-year-old girl named Elodie Fowler slid into an MRI machine at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, California. Doctors wanted to better understand a rare genetic condition that was causing swelling along the right side of her body and problems processing regular food.

The scan took about 30 minutes. The hospital's doctors used the results to start Elodie on an experimental new drug regimen.

Fowler's parents knew the scan might cost them a few thousand dollars, based on their research into typical pediatric MRI scans. Even though they had one of the most generous Obamacare exchange plans available in California, they decided to go out of network to a clinic that specialized in their daughter's rare genetic condition. That meant their plan would cover half of a "fair price" MRI.

They were shocked a few months later when a bill arrived with a startling price tag: $25,000. The bill included $4,016 for the anesthesia, $2,703 for a recovery room, and $16,632 for the scan itself plus doctor fees. The insurance picked up only $1,547.23, leaving the family responsible for the difference: $23,795.47.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

What I Learned From Being the Tick Girl - Nautilus

My sister Camilla and I stepped off the passenger ferry onto the dock at Vineyard Haven, Martha's Vineyard's main port, with a group that had already begun their party. They giggled, dragging coolers and beach chairs behind them. We competed to see how many items of Nantucket red we could spot.

Not that we were wearing any. Camilla wore shorts with white long underwear underneath, and I wore beige quick-dry hiking pants. Both of us had on sneakers with long white socks. It was late June, perfect beach weather. The water sparkled. But we weren't headed toward the ocean. We were there to hunt for ticks.

On the island, we hopped in a cab. Camilla looked longingly out the window as we passed the turns for the town beach and Owens Park Beach. The driver pointed out the location of the famous shark attack beach from Jaws. We drove on south to Manuel Correllus State Forest, an unremarkable park in the center of the island and the farthest point from any beach.

Deer ticks, or blacklegged ticks, are poppy-seed sized carriers of Lyme disease. We needed to collect 300 before the last ferry returned to Woods Hole, Massachusetts that night. We each unfurled a drag cloth—a one-meter square section of once-white corduroy attached to a rope—and began to walk, dragging the cloth slowly behind us as if we were taking it for a stroll. The corduroy patch would rise and fall over the leaves and logs in the landscape, moving like a mouse or a chipmunk scurrying through the leaf litter. Ticks, looking for blood, would attach to the cloth. Every 20 meters, we'd stoop to harvest them.

Tick collecting made it to Popular Science's 2004 list of worst science jobs alongside landfill monitor and anal wart researcher. On cool days, though, sweeping the forest floor, kneeling to pluck ticks from corduroy ridges, the job became rhythmic. I felt strangely close to the forest. As I soon found out, the work got me closer to people, too.

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