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If you saw these pictures in a gallery, you might think the glass was smudged.

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. Original image by David Hiser/Wikimedia Commons.


The right sides of these pictures are all blurry and kind of grey.

"Napoleon Crossing the Alps" by Jacque-Louis David. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

You'd obviously want to get someone to clean it up!

But what if the smudge was inside your eye?

Inside your eyes are natural lenses, like the lens of a camera. The lens focuses light onto the back of our eyes, where specialized cells interpret the image and send that information to the brain. Because all the light we see has to go through the lens, our bodies naturally make it transparent.

Sometimes, however, proteins in the lens start to clump together, forming a small cloudy area that destroys that carefully constructed lens transparency, like replacing a camera lens with a piece of frosted glass. This cloud is what's known as a cataract, and over time, it can spread to cover the entire lens in the eye.

Congenital cataracts. Image from National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health/Flickr.

When this happens, cataracts cause our vision to become blurry and washed out. They can also make light glare really bad and give some people double vision.

More than 22 million Americans over 40 already have cataracts. By the time we turn 80, most of us will have them in some form.

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world and mostly happen to people as we age. They can also be found in children and younger adults due to congenital conditions, injury, or illness. About one in every 250 kids is born with or develops cataracts at young age.

Treatments for cataracts do exist. The current solution generally either involves stronger glasses or, if the vision loss is bad enough, surgery to replace an old, cloudy lens with a transparent plastic one.

A young person in Bali recovers from cataract surgery. Image from Agung Parameswara/Getty Images.

But cataract surgery does sometimes come with complications, and some types of the plastic replacement lenses sacrifice the flexibility of our biological lenses — they have trouble focusing on nearby stuff, for instance, and don't work super well in children.

Cataract surgery might be about to get a neat sci-fi upgrade thanks to new research involving stem cells.

Stem cells are a special kind of cells found in our bodies that can transform themselves into different types of cells (like eye cells or brain cells or kidney cells).

They've been a hot area of research, from anti-aging ideas to straight-up regenerating limbs.

Stem cells magnified on a computer screen. Image by Spencer Platt/Staff/Getty.

Two groups of researchers recently published studies investigating if stem cells could help re-grow biological lenses.

One group of researchers in Japan and the U.K. recently used human stem cells to grow cells from many different parts of the eye.

The scientists took human stem cells and coaxed them into transforming into eye tissue. They found that they could successfully make the cells divide into different layers as they grew.

Image from NPG Press/YouTube.

What's cool is that each layer corresponded with a different part of the eye. Cells from the first layer, for example, could potentially become part of the nerve-rich tissue at the back of the eye while cells from between the second and third layers could become the lens, and cells from layers 3 and 4 could become parts of the cornea.

The researchers were even able to successfully transplant the new stem-cell-grown corneas into rabbits. This technique could one day help doctors replace many different parts of people's eyes as they become damaged, although a lot of work needs to be done before we see any tests in humans.

Another research group, meanwhile, experimented with a surgical technique designed to help children regrow new lenses.

The technique is deceptively elegant because it doesn't require any new technology, just a twist on existing techniques.

“This is just a change in a surgical procedure,” said James Funderburgh, a cell biologist at the University of Pittsburghin a Nature press release. “They are not putting in an artificial lens: they are just letting the lens regrow.”

In this new technique, the surgeons use a smaller-than-normal incision to remove the patient's cloudy lens but don't implant a plastic one afterwards. That's because after the lens is removed, some stem cells are naturally left behind in the patient's eye, and it turns out that, by leaving them alone, the body can use those stem cells to grow a brand new lens.

This technique is slower than traditional methods because the child's eye needs about three months to grow a new lens. But the benefit is that the lens won't grow cloudy over time, like some artificial ones do, and the surgery has a much lower rate of complications.

Sunglasses help protect these kids' eyes a few days after cataract surgery. Image from Chris Jackson/Getty Images.

In fact, this technique was so successful, they've even used it on 12 human babies. It's been two years since some of them had the procedure done, and so far, the results seem promising. While this particular technique may not be as useful for older adults (whose cells grow more slowly), it could restore sight to a lot of young people.

“Even if it’s only for kids, it’s fantastic,” said Funderburgh.

Cataracts are one of the most common vision problems in the world, but these cool new tools could help those living with them see the world a whole lot more clearly.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

People share experiences with intrusive thoughts.

When I was younger I used to think I was dying or that I would get kidnapped by a random stranger, but I kept it to myself because I thought something was wrong with me. I thought that telling people would confirm this fear, so I kept it inside my entire life until I was an adult and learned it was part of ADHD and other disorders, such as OCD and PTSD. But it doesn't have to be part of a disorder at all—a vast amount of people just have intrusive thoughts, and a Twitter user, Laura Gastón, is trying to normalize them for others.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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