Welcome back to this week’s edition of the news summary at The Medic Portal. This blog brings you the key health news stories that occurred from 24th to 30th April. This week a new test for glaucoma has been discovered that can form a diagnosis before symptoms arise, campaigners are concerned that the UK may vote against the new EU air quality standards and a law is coming into effect that means all cigarette packaging must be generic.
The main cause of permanent blindness in the UK is a condition called glaucoma, this is where light-sensitive cells in the retina die due to increased pressure in the eye. Any damage caused to the nerve is irreversible and it causes a progressive loss of sight if it is not managed. The majority of people suffering with glaucoma have no symptoms prior to losing sight so diagnosis is often late. New researchers have developed a method which involves injecting fluorescent dye into the blood and then taking images of the eye. Dying retinal nerve cells show on the images as white sports and the study indicated that white spots were twice as common in those with glaucoma. The new method still needs to be tested in a large clinical trial, however it is hoped that the test will allow glaucoma to be detected much earlier.
In a bid to cut down on smoking, UK law which comes into effect in May states that all cigarette packs must have health warnings, a standard colour, shape and font. It is hoped that the plain packaging could lead to 300,000 fewer smokers in the UK over the next year. A similar law was passed in Australia in 2012 which saw a 0.55% drop in smoking prevalence. Currently in the UK 17% of the adult population are smokers. Researchers believe that the change in packaging will mean more people are less motivated to smoke and have reduced cravings for tobacco.
Campaigners have warned that the UK could vote against the new European Union air quality standards. The new standards aim to reduce air pollution throughout Europe and prevent premature deaths called by air pollution. The new rules will impose stricter limits on fossil fuel emissions thus improving air quality. As the UK is highly reliant on coal, it is thought that politicians may vote against the new standards. It is hoped that adopting the new standards could prevent as many as 20,000 premature deaths in the EU.
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