I don't feel comfortable wearing glasses, doc

When a person is near sighted, the rays of light end up being focused somewhere in front of the retina, so they do not see the object very clearly.

Photo credit: Fotosearch

Dr Flo,
I am 17 years old and I have had eye problems since I was in Class Four. I have been to many hospitals, where I am only given spectacles. I do not feel comfortable wearing the spectacles all day, and my eyes are worsening by the day. Is there another remedy for my shortsightedness or does it mean that I will have to rely on my spectacles forever?

Dear Greg,
For us to see, light enters the eye through the cornea and the lens of the eye, which bend (refract) the light, to focus the rays of light on the retina at the back of the eye (similar to camera film). When you are near sighted, the rays of light end up being focused somewhere in front of the retina, so you do not see the object very clearly. This can happen because the eye ball is too long, or there is a problem with the cornea or the lens, causing less effective light bending. As a result, you have a problem seeing things that are far, but you can see near things clearly. It may also cause straining of the eyes and headaches. The eye sight grows worse until around 18 years of age, when you stop growing.
You need to see an eye specialist (ophthalmologist), where some tests will be done to assess the level of short sightedness and if there is any other problem. The short sightedness is easily corrected using spectacles/glasses or contact lenses. Using the spectacles does not worsen the problem, neither is it addictive. And they can be an excellent fashion statement too!
There are other ways to correct the eye sight, like use of intraocular lenses (lenses placed inside the eye) and refractive surgery, like laser surgery which can be done in some people.

Dr Flo,
I have black, painless marks on my forehead just where my hairline starts. Sometimes I peel them off, but then they grow again. What could be the problem? Those marks just appeared recently. Is there any medicine I can use to get rid of the black marks?

Dear W N,
The black marks along your hairline may have been caused by infection (for example fungal, viral or parasitic), inflammatory skin disease (for example psoriasis, eczema or sceroderma), hormonal disorders like thyroid disease; acne, nutritional deficiencies, skin allergies or sunburns. The best way to manage them is by finding out the cause and treating it.
It is advisable to visit a doctor or a skin specialist for examination. The treatment prescribed will depend on the underlying problem. A sample of the skin may be peeled off and examined as well. Once the cause of the black marks is treated, they should fade off on their own, usually within six to 12 months. In the meantime, protect your skin from the sun by using sunscreen, a hat and avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun. Skin lightening products can help quicken the fading of the black marks, but this is best used under the direction of a dermatologist. Some skin lighteners have ingredients that may worsen the situation or cause additional problems, especially if the cause of the black marks is not treated.

Dr Flo,
It has been more than a week since I passed stool. I no longer feel hungry; I take lunch and supper because it is time to eat. I am not in pain. Please advise me. I am worried there might be a problem with my digestive system.

Dear Moran,
You are suffering from constipation, which is defined as not passing stool at least once in three days, or often passing dry or hard stool, or often having difficulty pushing out stool. It can be caused by failure to eat enough fibre, not taking enough fluids, being inactive for long, change of diet, stress or anxiety, and ignoring the urge to pass stool. It can also be due to a side effect of some medication like loperamide, iron supplements and opioids.
Because the intestines are unable to empty normally, the appetite goes down, and if the situation continues for a while, you may start vomiting. Vomiting and abdominal pain are a sign of serious illness that would require urgent medical intervention.
To manage the problem, you need to make your stool softer by taking adequate fluids and fibre, which is found in fruits, vegetables and cereals. Also, avoid being inactive, that is sitting or lying down for long, and start exercising. You also need a good toilet routine – go to the toilet at a regular time and place where you are comfortable, use the toilet when you feel the urge to, and you can use something to raise your legs, so that your knees are above your hips when you are sitting on the toilet seat.
These measures will usually work within several days, and they can be maintained as part of your lifestyle to avoid a similar situation in future. If they do not work, or if you are quite uncomfortable, you can get short term medication from the doctor to help pass the stool easier.

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