A Vision of Pancakes

An ophthalmologist, a mathematician and an engineer all walk into an IHOP. Sounds like a joke, right? Hold onto your syrup, it's actually science! Researchers at the University College London are currently using pancakes to research surgical options to treat glaucoma. I know what you are thinking, “what do pancakes have to do with the eyes?” We have all dealt with the important ratio between our eyes and our stomachs when eyeing a stack of pancakes but this has to do with interactions between fluids and vapors within the pancake while it is cooking.


New eye research uses pancakes to study glaucoma

Glaucoma is an ocular disease that most commonly presents with an increased pressure inside the eye. Consider the eye to be a system that constantly has fluid entering the eye and exiting the eye. If there is an increase in fluid inflow or a slower out flow rate from the eye the pressure starts to increase. Increasing intra-ocular pressure causes damage to axons and results in decreased peripheral vision.


Current treatment options either focus on decreasing inflow to the eye or increasing outflow from the eye. Treatments addressing outflow are found to lower intra-ocular pressure more successfully than inflow treatments. Treatment of glaucoma does not actually cure glaucoma, it manages neurologic damage to slow progression of vision loss. Researchers are looking at new ways to cure many diseases, glaucoma included. Treatment options right now can consist of drops, surgery or a combination of both. If ophthalmologists can improve surgical techniques hopefully patients wouldn't have to use drops every day.


Glaucoma is an eye condition that damages the optic nerve


Now back to pancakes! The researchers in London put on their chefs hats and started flipping up different types of flapjacks to evaluate which type of batter resulted in the most consistent pancake that didn't trap vapors. If vapors are trapped during the cooking process the pancake will become uneven and lift in certain areas. The only variable in the pancake batter that changed was the fluid level, so if you think about it; a crepe versus a thick fluffy pancake. Okay seriously, how does this relate to eyes? Our eyes contain flexible sheets and act in a similar manner to a pancake. So if researchers can evaluate what an appropriate fluid to vapor ratio is, they may be able to better predict surgical outcomes in the eye.


As mentioned before, the goal of a glaucoma treatment is to lower the intra-ocular pressure. Now if an ophthalmologist is considering a surgical procedure to help release pressure they want to have even, predictable results without trapping excess fluid. Uneven results can vary procedure outcomes. Keep in mind there are a variety of surgical procedures that can be done to release pressure.


So next time you sit down for a tasty stack of pancakes you can enjoy them more knowing that their fluffy deliciousness can be helping save vision.


Routine eye exams preserve your vision

Posted by Artisan Optics at 2/19/2016 4:23:00 PM
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