Bill Harvey: Champagne supernova
Author: Bill Harvey
Have you heard of the Ig Nobel prize? I am not sure it has ever been awarded to an eye researcher but I think I have found a possible candidate.
When working recently on a feature looking at intraocular pressure, I came across an excellent review paper in a 2013 issue of Acta Ophtalmologica looking at the many and various influences upon IOP. Along with the usual ones (time of day, blinking, accommodation and so on), the following was cited. ‘A significant IOP drop was observed at the reported time course corresponding to consumption of champagne followed by sexual activity. The IOP stabilised to the baseline range afterwards. This pattern was reproduced in the subsequent two study sessions and was absent during the session including only consumption of champagne.’
But before assuming that a study into the impact of combined champagne and sexual activity upon IOP is worthy of an Ig Nobel, it is worth remembering that science need not always have an established goal. Everyone knows that the laser was invented before a need for it had been determined. And, in fact, in 2006, a study showing that one of the malaria mosquitoes (Anopheles gambiae) is attracted equally to the smell of Limburger cheese and the smell of human feet earned the Ig Nobel Prize in the area of biology. As a direct result of these findings, traps baited with this cheese have been placed in strategic locations in some parts of Africa to combat the epidemic of malaria.
And finally, a new paper in the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology has looked at the various causes of papilloedema in children. Importantly, this paper re-emphasises the fact that, in children, papilloedema needs ‘careful optic nerve evaluation as most of the patients were asymptomatic’.