Life After Cataract Surgery

May I pass along a word of encouragement to people contemplating cataract surgery? The inconveniences described by Geraldine L. Lenvin in "Vertical Times, Life After Cataract Surgery" {Lifeline, July 21} seem unnecessarily scary.

I recently had cataract surgery (with intraocular lens implant) as an outpatient. I visited the doctor's office on the following day to have the eye patch removed and to receive postoperative instructions. My recovery program permitted watching television as usual, taking showers in the customary way without shower cap and going about my accustomed life style without restrictions against bending at the waist or stooping to pick up objects from the floor. Putting on and tying my shoes could be done in the normal hunkered-down position. I was cautioned not to lift heavy objects. However, that was no inconvenience to me. My recovery progress so far has been very satisfactory. Ralph M. Kee Springfield

The Brains of Fetuses

What new depths of disgraceful behavior some in the medical community have descended into in the mad name of scientific progress! "Brain Implants" {Cover Story, July 14} conjured up visions of a Frankenstein-like experimentation that should be condemned before it is allowed to go any further. I truly hope enough people will read your article and protest loud and hard in places where it can effect the stop of this new abomination.

Also, I pray it will mobilize the brain cells of pro-choice and pro-abortion thinkers who believe abortion is not murder so that they will reevaluate their positions. After all, if only live fetal tissue from a human mother can produce the desired regeneration of brain cells in an adult recipient, how can anyone not call that fetal tissue human -- and in killing that living human, call it murder? Rose Mary Garger Burke

HMOs and Mental Health

The article about what to look for when joining an HMO {Cover Story, June 23} missed one of the most vital aspects of any health care policy: mental health benefits.

Consider these facts: Three million children are experiencing serious emotional disorders, according to the Office of Technology Assessment. Approximately 70 to 80 percent are not getting the appropriate care. Thirty percent of our elderly have psychological problems severe enough to need professional attention, but over 80 percent of them will not receive proper treatment, says the American Psychological Association. Eighteen million adults have alcohol-related problems, and more than 10 million are alcoholics, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Conservative predictions by the Public Health Service suggest that there will be more than 270,000 cases of AIDS by 1991. The U.S. has the highest rate of teen pregnancy, adolescent suicide, drug addiction and alcoholism of western industrialized nations.

These are frightening statistics. Imagine the public outrage if 80 percent of cancer patients did not receive treatment, or if that many pregnant women were not given the proper obstetrical care. And yet the facts show that the elderly as well as children are often denied access to the proper psychological care.Santiago Montero Editor, Behavior Today newsletter New York

Going Beyond 90

I must begin by commending Sandy Rovner for her thorough and objective approach in "The Family's Role in Diagnosing Alzheimer's Disease" {Healthtalk, July 14}. The article successfully reported on the most modern thinking in terms of this devastating form of dementia. However, although I have the greatest respect for Dr. David A. Drachman and his work in this field, I must take exception to his statement in the final paragraph of the article, ". . . at the age of 90, the only normal thing is to be dead." He was doubtless joking.

One cannot assign a specific age to death. There are today 25,000 people in the United States who are 100 years of age and older, a number projected to increase fourfold by the year 2000. Many of these people are healthy, functioning members of our society. About half live in their own homes or with a relative or friend. Furthermore, I shudder to think how the 2.5 million people in the United States today who are 85 years of age and older might react to such a statement.

The National Institute on Aging recently sponsored Centenarian's Day. In attendance was one of your reporters, who noted the vigor of the 17 centenarians from this area who were there to represent their peers. Activities to honor centenarians were held in other areas of the U.S. as well. To imply that realistically these people should all be dead is to do them a great injustice. T. Franklin Williams, MD Director, National Institute on Aging Bethesda

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Because of a production error, the level of cholesterol considered high was misstated in an article last week. Children with a cholesterol level of 175 (not 75) are considered at increased risk of later heart trouble.

A photograph of a mosquito with a July 7 story about AIDS transmission should have been credited to Dr. Leonard Munstermann of the University of Notre Dame.