As the nation looks forward to devouring pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, researchers at University College London have been studying pancakes for a very different reason – to improve surgical techniques for treating people with glaucoma.
Glaucoma is the number one cause of permanent blindness worldwide. The disease causes permanent eye damage when excess fluid builds up in the eye.
The pressure this puts on the optic nerve is what eventually leads to loss of vision, and scientists believe that figuring out an escape route for the fluid could help save people’s eyesight in the future.
Researchers compared the cooking process for 14 pancake recipes – ranging from thin French crepes to thick Dutch pancakes – to observe how water escaped from batter during the cooking process. Different recipes consisted of different thicknesses and consistencies.
The pancakes’ consistencies revealed that thick batters trap water vapour, which causes craters at the bottom of the sweet breakfast staple. Thin batters allow water vapour to escape, leaving behind dark patches on the bottom of crepes.
The goal of studying all this delicious data is to help scientists better understand how flexible sheets, like the eye's retina, interact with fluids and vapours like those caused by glaucoma. This information could lead to better surgical treatments, which would mean less vision loss in the future.
Glaucoma is usually a painless disease and does not cause symptoms until it is quite advanced, which is why early detection, through regular and complete eye exams, is the key to protecting your vision. If left untreated, it can cause visual impairment and irreversible damage.
Regular eye tests
Regular eye tests are essential and Specsavers recommends that people have their eyes tested at least every two years. If you’re at a higher risk of glaucoma, for example if you have a close relative with it, you are advised to have more frequent tests. If you have any concerns about your eye health or want to make an appointment contact your local Specsavers store.