Daily Archives: November 21, 2016

Can movies cure “lazy eye?”

“Lazy Eye”. You probably know what it is. If you do not, here is a picture.











According to Honor Whiteman of Medical News Today, amblyopia, or as it is commonly known, “lazy eye”, effects 2-3 out of 100 children in the United States. Amblyopia does not allow an eye to focus (Whiteman 2015). If you do not treat it as a child it remains as an adult.

Well, apparently watching films can help cure “lazy eye.”

The most common cure for “lazy eye”, or amblyopia, has been covering the stronger eye with a patch for several weeks to months so the weaker eye would be used (Whiteman 2015). By using this treatment, the parts of the brain that deal with vision develop and so your eyesight is (Whiteman 2015). But a different treatment has been growing in the cure of this disease. This treatment is called dichoptic therapy (Whiteman 2015). Dichoptic therapy gives the two eyes two different images to look at and is combined with tasks or games (Whiteman 2015). However, the downfall of dichoptic therapy is that the tasks the children have to do are extremely mundane and they grow bored from the tasks or find the tasks too difficult (Whiteman 2015). Even though this method may be boring for the children, it has proved to be extremely effecting in curing amblyopia(Whiteman 2015). So finally, how do movies relate to this? Well it’s simple. Scientists believe that watching popular animated movies as a form of dichoptic therapy can replace these boring mundane tasks (Whiteman 2015).


This is how the children watched the films.


So, as any scientists would, three scientists constructed an experiment to test their hypothesis. Eight children, aged 4-10, all with “lazy eyes”, watched three dichoptic films each week twice (Whiteman 2015). The children watched these films on a 3D screen and wore 3D glasses (Whiteman 2015). The stronger and weaker eyes of the children were each shown the film. The experiment saw success with every single child.

So does this study prove movies cure “lazy eye” and that we should have all of our children start using this method? Well, not exactly. Well why not?

This is an extremely small experiment. Only eight children were used. I would not quite call this anecdotal, however it is very close to it. This was not a large study. Yes, children saw improvements. But only eight did. There needs to be more children involved in this experiment before I could say it is substantially more concrete than anecdotal evidence.

Additionally, this was also an experimental study, and experimental studies usually do not suffer from confounding variables. However, this case is different. Randomization is needed to avoid confounding variables, but this requires lots of people. Randomizing a small group of people is certainly better than not doing it at all, but it’s not ideal. The reason is because its hard to randomize a small group of people. For example, if you have eight people, sure they will have differences, but many of them will have similarities that will impact the study. When you add more people, randomization works the best because more people leads to less similarities. If I were to do my own experiment, I would keep the experiment pretty much the same. I think the experiment is very well designed. However, the one thing I would change would be the size. I would have ideally at least 100 children participate in this study. 

Eventually I would like this hypothetical experiment to be submitted in a scientific journal for peer review. Scientists would be able to review my work and expose any mistakes I made in my work. If scientists did their own experiment after peer review and found similar results as I did, I would be able to form a meta-analysis. Even the best studies fall victim to chance. However, meta-analysis limits chance as many different studies find the same thing. Once a meta-analysis was done, I would be able to say whether or not this experiment was correct or not.

But is this issue really that important? What’s the risk? Well to find risk you multiply the hazard and the exposure. Well the exposure is 2-3 out of every 100 children in the United States, so the exposure is relatively large. But is the hazard high? I’d say it is very low. You obviously are not going to die from “lazy eye.” Many people have “lazy eye”, including lots of successful people. So while the exposure is high, the hazard is low, and therefore, the risk is low. Unfortunately for parents of kids who suffer from lazy-eye, since the risk is low, I think federal funds should go towards other areas of research. That does not mean more research should not be done, but I believe it should not be government funded. Whether it is government funded or through public funds, I look forward to hearing more about the issue in the future.

Is Fracking Safe?

In Pennsylvania, we’ve always been focused on natural gases/minerals as a good portion of our wealth. Without it, our state economy gets significantly worse, as shown in both the loss of jobs recently in the mining sector (and entire towns built for that purpose have been abandoned in our state). However, in recent times, things have changed for the better for us. Not only have we found massive amounts of oil we previosly didn’t know we had, but we also have introduced a new method of collecting oil-fracking.

For those of you who may not be familiar with what fracking is, fracking is the drilling into rock, causing oil or natural gases to come up that were trapped in there. If you want more information on fracking, you can look on fracking’s main website. We know that fracking has helped make the US a much larger producer of oil in recent years, causing gas prices to fall significantly and the economy and jobs to rise. However, I wonder if there is some bad in fracking that could affect the environment and our well-being as a result, perhaps something the fracking companies and government don’t want us to know.


How fracking works. Picture source

There are many articles on how fracking can cause explosions. The first is from Mexico, where 36 oil tanks caught fire, while another in West Virginia left 5 people injured. These are major situations, but both are rareities in the fracking industry, and likewise both had no known causes of ignition. Therefore, both can be caused to freak accidents, and not on the fracking process as a whole (due to chance). However, it can be said that we should look into if this process, which releases gases at a fast rate from rocks and the ground, can be an ignition source and cause explosions and be dangerous for those who work in that industry.

There is something involving fracking that is far more alarming, however. According to this study done by the ehp (environmental healh perspectives), a high amount of methane was found in water near some fracking sites. You could say that this is an isolated incident, or that the methane may not have a direct correlation to the fracking, but the results may shock you. In northern PA and NY, a study of 68 drinking water wells found that all had high levels of methane, so much so that they fell within the “take action” limit, and well above the maximum. This is both a staggering amount of wells contaminated, and all of them being over the maximum of methane is a scary thought.


Not only that, but these high levels of methane in our drinking water can too lead to an explosion, destroying homes in the process. This is a very bad thing for people near fracking, and needs to be addressed. Going back to my previous question, is this due to fracking, or maybe just due to poor plumbing/pipes? Or maybe another third party variable? The former head of the EPA for PA John Hanger says it’s the fault of the well construction, but is he just saying this because of how much money fracking makes for PA?

Thankfully, these leaks aren’t very likely, with only 2% estimated to be contaminated. Therefore, you can judge the risks according to other things in our lives. This is far more likely to occur than dying in a car crash, but the water being contaminated may not make you sick. Therefore, it’s up to you to decide if 2% is too much. Obviously either way, more meta-analysis on the topic is needed, as are stricter requirements for fracking. Thankfully, stricter measures were passed into law over 5 years ago. Are these measures enough? Only time will tell, but hopefully we can figure out a safe way to frack, without contaminating water or hurting people in the process. If we can’t, we may have to give up on fracking entirely and focus on renewable energy for the future faster than we may like.

Is Vegan Healthy?

0pwnidvwlawdovi_zvmc1owdwx7peelwh87qxxnnpvkabaaaraiaaepqAs we know, our daily diet can affect our health. Today, vegetable, green food becomes the synonym of healthy food. People start to modify their diets that eat more vegetables and less meat. What’s more, many choose to become vegetarians. Approximately six to eight million adults in the United States eat no meat, fish, or poultry, according to a Harris Interactive poll commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group, a nonprofit organization that disseminates information about vegetarianism. Several million more have eliminated red meat but still eat chicken or fish. About two million have become vegans, forgoing not only animal flesh but also animal-based products such as milk, cheese, eggs, and gelatin.

However, a research group in Austria set off an alarm bell for vegetarians: be a vegetarian is not healthier. Its results showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with poorer health (higher incidences of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), a higher need for health care, and poorer quality of life. In detail, the analysis shows that in the frequency of chronic diseases, significantly higher cancer incidence rates in vegetarians than in subjects with other dietary habits. Also, vegetarians suffer largely more often from anxiety disorder and/or depression. Additionally, they have a poorer quality of life in terms of physical health, social relationships, and environmental factors. This study contains the large sample size, the matching according to age, sex, and socioeconomic background, and the standardized measurement of all variables. And they consider the influence of weight and lifestyle factors on health, such as physical exercise and smoking behavior. So this study actually avoid confounding variables. But it has only shown that Austrian adults who consume a vegetarian diet are less healthy, have a lower quality of life, and also require more medical treatment. Moreover, we still need a more in-depth analysis of the health effects of different dietary habits.

I have heard that there is a connection between infertility and vegetarianism. A research group in University of Munich had this kind of study. They found that vegetarians in their samples has possibility that cause changes in hormone levels. To be specific, vegetarian’s diet easily cause deficiency of protein and fat, which influence fertilization. But the result may cause by confounding variables. For example, because diets of vegetarians are relatively simple, vegetarians are easier to get disturbances in estrogen levels, which influence fertilization, than non-vegetarians. However, this phenomenon unusually exits clinically. Also, it’s hard to consider other factors except diet, such as congenital defects, reproductive system inflammation, age and psychological state. It cannot state whether a causal relationship exists, but describe ascertained associations

lnb1ekx-ugudpxhtv0chtueusegiro0fpu5sf6nsznr0aqaamqeaaepqWhat’s more, a vegetarian diet can be lacking in certain key nutrients, if not well planned. For instance, vegetarian should eat more to maintain healthy and get enough protein. Vegetarians and vegans also need to prioritize their intake of iron, calcium, vitamin B12, and zinc. Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may also be necessary.

Eventually, I’d like to say that be a vegetarian is not the only way to keep healthy. Especially sometimes false belief in vegetarianism can even cause adverse effects. So, trying to balance nutrition, maintain healthy daily routine and exercise is the suitable to keep healthy.

If someone want to become a vegetarian, he or she actually requires planning and knowledge of plant-based nutrition. Here are some resources that can help:

American Dietetic Association www.eatright.org

The Vegetarian Resource Group www.vrg.org

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