A stigma-WHAT?

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Have you ever been told you have astigmatism at your eye exam? And have you ever wondered what the heck astigmatism actually is? Well, allow me to bring this very common condition into focus for you.

Astigmatism is a condition in which the light rays that enter the eye do not focus at the same point on the retina, or the back surface of the eye. This results in a blurry image, which may cause you headaches and eyestrain. The light rays may scatter due to the curvature of the cornea, which is the clear front surface of the eyeball, or as they pass through the intraocular lens inside the eye. Thankfully, having astigmatism does not mean you have some scary eye disease! It is actually considered to be a part of your refractive error – the prescription you get for glasses or contact lenses.  

A person can have astigmatism while also being near-sighted or far-sighted. It may be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery. If you have been experiencing blurry vision, headaches or eyestrain, please feel free to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive vision exam at our Optometry Services at The Wilce Student Health Center. To learn a little more about astigmatism, check out the information and video posted on the American Optometric Association’s website.

Julia Geldis, OD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Are Sex Toys Necessarily Safe Toys?


I just ran across a great article about sex toys from our colleagues at Brown Univeristy.  Now I know this is an embarassing topic for a lot of people to talk about, but I wanted to share it with you for a couple of reasons:

1. The whole point of this blog is to talk about embarassing stuff that you want to know, and

2. It brings up an important point about not making assumptions about “safe” sex.

Just like sex that doesn’t include men isn’t automatically safe, the use of sex toys doesn’t guarantee a risk free experience either.

If you’re using a sex toy with a partner, you can catch a sexually-transmitted infection from it.  While bacteria and viruses prefer living at body temperature, they can survive in blood and bodily fluids for a time outside of the body and therefore can be on the surface of sex toys passed from one partner to another.

Now, if you’re flying solo you obviously don’t need to worry about getting a sexually-transmitted infection from a sex toy, but they can result in bacteria passing from the anus to the vagina or mouth, which can cause a vaginal or intestinal infection.  So if you plan to use them in multiple areas, cover them with a condom or wash them before moving from the anus to the vagina or mouth.  

The article by the folks at Brown covers a lot of this stuff in more detail and provides some really good tips for cleaning and maintaining sex toys.  If you are worried that you may have or have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection, come in and see us – we’re always glad to help.

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

A cool way of SEEING how safe the HPV vaccine is

The Visual Miscellaneum

About a year and a half ago, we did a post linking to a very cool and informative article about the H1N1 vaccine that presented tons of information in an almost purely visual format.  The blog is called Information Is Beautiful, and it’s done by a London-based “independent visual & data journalist” named David McCandless whose passion lies in reporting information through images and with a minimum of text.  

Well he’s at it again, but this time he’s taking on the HPV vaccine.  The article is definitely worth a look – it should give you a whole new way of “looking” at the HPV vaccine.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the HPV vaccine, our preventive services department will be happy to answer them.

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

How Safe is That Tattoo?


The Department of Internal Medicine at New York University (NYU) has a great blog called Clinical Correlations.  The blog is produced by and for physicians so it can be a little technical for the general reader, but it often covers topics that are of interest to everyone. 

A recent post about tatto safety was really good, and very relevant to all you ink-stained Buckeyes out there.  If you’re interested in the details, you can check out the full post here, but here are the highlights:

  • The most common health risk associated with tattooing is localized skin infection caused by Staphylococcus aureus (including MRSA) or Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  A thorough washing of the tattoo site with soap and water is usually effective in preventing localized skin infection.
  • Tattooing can also cause systemic infections such as staphylococcal toxic shock syndrome, pseudomonal abscesses, and infective endocarditis.  If you’ve ever been told that you need to take antibiotics before going to the dentist, you should talk to your health care provider before getting a tattoo.
  • Tattooing has caused tetanus, tuberculosis, hepatitis B and hepatitis C so if you are planning on getting a tattoo, it would be a good idea to make sure your tetanus and hepatitis B vaccines are up to date.
  • Tattoo inks don’t need FDA approval and can contain a wide variety of ingredients that can cause skin reactions.  The most common elements (aluminum, oxygen, titanium, and carbon) have been found to be safe, but mercury, chromium, cadmium, and cobalt are commonly used and have all been associated with delayed hypersensitivity reactions.

These risks are fairly small, but they can be minimized even further by choosing a professional studio to do your tattoo.  You should make sure that the artist changes needles and inkwells, disinfects all equipment, washes her hands and changes gloves between each client.  She should also shave and cleanse the body site with an antimicrobial wash before administering the tattoo and provide appropriate instructions on how to take care of your skin and what problems to look out for. 

If you ever have any concerns about your tattoo, you can make an appointment to see us.

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University