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Category Archives: Eye Care

Very few products available in your local pharmacy can claim as many uses as Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a type of unsaturated fat that are found in high quantities in certain fish (such as salmon, herring, sardines) as well as plant sources (such as flax).

The two most common Omega-3s found in supplements are EPA and DHA. Some supplements will have their Omega-3s derived from fish oils while others will be derived from plant sources. Be sure to choose a product that lists the amount of EPA or DHA per capsule.

There has been some concern by patients over the levels of heavy metals (such as mercury) in Omega-3 fish oils. However, heavy metals tend to accumulate in the protein of the fish rather than the fats. In addition, Health Canada tests all Omega-3 products for their heavy metal content before being made available to the public.

Here are 5 common medical conditions that Omega-3s can help treat:

1. Arthritis – Omega-3s have been shown to help decrease inflammation in the body, therefore they may help relieve some of the pain associated with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Between 3 – 5 grams of EPA and DHA for 12 weeks are needed for the anti-inflammatory effects.

2. Hyperlipidemia – Omega 3-s can help lower triglyceride (fat) levels circulating in the body. High triglyceride levels contribute to the formation of fat deposits in blood vessels. This can lead to hardening of the arteries, which allows for the formation of dangerous clots which can cause a heart attack or stroke. Studies have shown that 2 – 4 grams of fish oils can lower triglycerides by 20-50%.

3. Hypertension – Omega-3s have a modest effect on reducing blood pressure and may be a viable option for patients with mild hypertension who do not wish to start a prescription medication at this time. Omega-3s reduce the production of agents that constrict blood vessels and increases production of agents that open blood vessels. For cardiac health, 1 gram of EPA plus DHA daily is recommended.

4. Depression – Studies have shown that 1 gram of EPA twice daily may yield anti-depressant and/or mood stabilizing effects. Omega-3s may be suited for the treatment of specific populations, such as pregnant or lactating women where conventional antidepressants must be used with caution.

5. Loss of Vision – Recent studies have shown the beneficial effects of omega-3s on vision, specifically decreasing risk of age related macular degeneration. Further investigations are needed to confirm the results of these studies, however many ophthalmologists are now recommending that their patients take Omega-3 supplements.

If supplements are not for you, try to replace the meat in two of your meals per week with fish. Certain populations (such as Mediterranean and Inuit) that eat high amounts of fish and little amounts of red meats have much lower rates of cardiovascular disease compared to the North American populations.

Omega-3s are not for everyone. For patients on blood thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin) or Aspirin (ASA), be sure to check with your physician or pharmacist before starting on Omega-3s as they may increase the risk of bleeding.

 

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Pharmacists get many questions about how to treat “pink eye”, also known as infectious conjunctivitis.  Pink eye can be bacterial or viral.   Bacterial pink eye is common in children as they share toys, towels and come in close contact with each other at school and day care.  In general however, most cases of pink eye are viral.

Depending on the type of pink eye treatment will differ.  Bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with antibiotic drops.  There is no medicinal treatment for viral conjunctivitis.

In 45% to 73% of children with purulent ‘pink eye” an ear infection is also present.  If the eye has a purulent discharge, swelling and burning, this usually points to a bacterial infection.  A mild watery discharge with itching, associated with a concurrent upper respiratory infection signals viral conjunctivitis.

Both types of infections are generally self-limiting, (they will resolve on their own with out medication).  Most types of bacterial conjunctivitis will resolve within eight days.  These infections can be treated to speed up recovery and prevent the spread of the infection.  Cold and warm compresses can be used as well as a variety of topical antimicrobial agents.  Polysporin drops are available over-the-counter and will cover most pathogens causing bacterial conjunctivitis.  Other prescription eye drops are also available.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is contagious as soon as symptoms are present and for as long as there is discharge from the eye, and continue for one to two days after starting the antibiotic.

With viral conjunctivitis compresses are about the only treatment available.  If one eye is involved the other eye will become infected within days in about half the cases.  Symptoms may worsen for a few days slowly improving over one to two weeks.  This condition is contagious before the appearance of symptoms and as long as symptoms last.

If you wear non-disposable contact lenses clean them thoroughly and buy a new storage case.  Disposable lenses should be thrown away.  Glasses should be worn for the duration of the infection.  If you use other drops for treating conditions like glaucoma you should replace these to avoid inadvertent contamination.

To prevent the spread of infection practice good hygiene, washing hands and towels of the infected person.

If you are having trouble with your child’s school you can ask the pharmacy for an explanatory note.  This helps clear up any misconceptions they may have regarding the treatment that is necessary, and steps that need to be taken to prevent the spread of the condition.

Please contact your pharmacy or doctor if you have any further questions regarding this condition.