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UC Davis ophthalmologist to examine ancient Chilean mummy eyes

microscopic viewing, applying stains to highlight selected cellular characteristics, and finally examining the tissues under a microscope. Preliminary findings should be available by the end of the week. Slow rehydration may postpone the findings by a day.

Tests for eye diseases, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, will be conducted, but Lloyd says there are many more systemic ailments that can be found by examining the eyes.

"During modern-day eye exams we can see signs of diabetes, high blood pressure, various cancers, nutritional deficiencies, fetal alcohol syndrome and even early signs of HIV infection," said Lloyd. "These same changes are visible under the microscope."

Both mummies are already known to have recovered from pneumonia. One of the female's lungs was adherent to her chest wall and both of the young boy's lungs were adherent to his chest wall.

"This adherence is consistent with a recovery from pneumonia," said Auderheide, who is a professor of pathology at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, School of Medicine. "Since we see it on both of the boy's lungs, he probably had and recovered from pneumonia, twice."

The child, who was one of the last members of the Tihuanacu culture, also had an inherited cystic disease in his liver. "We're not sure if the liver disease is what killed him," said Aufderheide. "There were a few preserved internal organs, but most of the body was in decay." The 23-year-old woman was buried in a seated position, fully clothed in embroidered V-neck wool shirts. She wore sea-lion-hide sandals and on her head, a bandana. Her hair was in two braids. In addition to the pneumonia, she had lice, bad teeth and osteoporosis.

"It's likely that the young woman's osteoporosis was caused by a diet that included oxalate-producing plants, which inhibits the body's ability to assimilate calcium," said Aufderheide. "Perhaps something in Dr. Lloyds findings will tell us more about t
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Contact: Kelly Gastman
kelly.gastman@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9444
University of California, Davis - Health System
18-Oct-2005


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