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Ask the Doc...

Advice and suggestions from our panel of doctors in response to readers' queries.

P.K. Kesurani

My brother (25) wears glasses of minus four in both eyes but he can see near things clearly but not see distant objects. Will he be able to see distant things clearly without wearing glasses by medical treatment and care? Will a laser operation help reduce the power?

Dr. N.R. Rangaraj, Opthalmic Surgeon, replies

Your brother has short sight or myopia. A person with this refractory error can see near objects clearly but distant objects blur out completely. Spectacles, contact lenses or LASIK surgery (LASer In situ Keratomileusis) corrects myopia by bringing the light that is focused in front of the retina to a sharp focus on it. There is no known medical treatment for myopia.

LASIK surgery is an emerging option. The laser treatment programme with a combination of smaller and larger beams is designed to deliver a precise treatment, which is unique to each patient. The patient should understand and discuss the surgical procedure with the surgeon before undertaking any form of treatment for myopia.

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R. Parthasarathi

I am a 79-year-old man used to wearing a namam. The thirusoornam used for the past 15 years has caused a black ugly patch. The dermatologist suggested cutidoff, which does not remove the black patch. I used zole ointment, Betnovate skin ointment, and Dipgen cream. But only 90 per cent has been cured. The remaining 10 per cent though not ugly appears to be non-curable. Doctors identified the slight black patch as "post pigment." Is there any remedy for it?

Dr. R. Murlidhar, Consultant Dermatologist, replies:

Your doctors are right when they tell you that it is post inflammatory pigmentation. Whenever the skin gets inflamed, in your case due to contact dermatitis, it leaves a mark. If we stop irritating the skin when the inflammation starts, the post inflammatory pigmentation is less. This happens due to damage to the lower portion of the skin, which is rich in pigment cells. These pigment cells fall deep into the skin and get trapped there resulting in permanent patches being formed. In younger patients, in whom the skin regeneration is faster, this pigmentation also resolves by itself. You have used steroid creams, which cannot remove post inflammatory pigment, though they may prevent its formation by limiting the inflammation itself.

At present, talk to your dermatologist and see if you can use medicines like combinations of topical vitamin c and kojic acid, which have recently been available in the market and have shown promise in removing hyperpigmentation. Sunblocks and antioxidants also remove post inflammatory hyperpigmentation to a large extent.

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Name withheld:

I am a 22-year-old girl in college. For six months, I get pain at the joint of neck and spine. It arises when I travel in jerks or bend down to work. Sometimes I have giddiness. I had an x-ray taken and doctors said that I don't have spondilitis. I apply hot water fomentation and gels when pain occurs. How do I get rid of it?

Dr. S. Sivamurugan, Orthopaedic Surgeon, replies:

Your complaint is very common among students and computer professionals. You need to take a few precautions while working for a long time: Do not work for more than 45 minutes at a stretch. Always rest for 20 minutes every hour. Your keyboard should be close to your body, i.e. your elbow should be bent at angle while working. Neck exercises are very useful, and use a thin pillow at night. You do not have any neurological disorder. See an orthosurgeon if your pain is not relieved by these simple measures.

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