Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Eye Care

I recently had a request to blog about eye health. Today’s health and beauty buzz is on taking care of your eyes.
We have all heard the sayings “If looks could kill” and “the eyes are the window to the soul”. The eye is the window through which we view the world. It is the most sensitive and delicate organ that we possess. Other than the brain, the eyes are also the most complex. Looking someone straight in the eye may or may not reveal their honesty, but it can often give an indication of their overall health.  Medical problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, liver disease, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, heart disease and signs of stroke may be diagnosed through an eye examination.
How often do we need an eye exam:-
Most doctors will recommend a yearly eye exam. In some cases, eye exams may be more frequently performed than annually if there are conditions that warrant it.
Adults with no family history of eye disease and who have good vision should have their eyes checked every 2 or 3 years until age 40.
At age 40, early signs of disease may sometimes be detected and changes in eye site may occur. If you are healthy and have no family history of eye disease, eye exams are recommended every 18 months up to age 60, irrespective if glasses are worn or not. Contact lens users should have annual exams.
At around age 60, yearly exams are recommended.
What happens during an eye exam:-
An eye exam should take round 30 to 60 minutes.

  •       The test chart- you are asked to read a wall chart of varying sized letters ranging from largest to smallest to check vision.
  •       Pressure inside of your eye will be measured. A puff of air is directed into the eye and the pressure is measured by the eye’s resistance to the air. This gives the optician valuable information about the health of your eye.
  • ·An autorefractor is used to examine how the eye processes light. This is used to determine prescription along with other tests.
  • The retinoscope is used to also determine final prescription. It is used to observe how the eye processes a beam of light.
  • The retina at the back of the eye is examined. This determines the condition of blood vessels and the head of the optic nerve. Underlying diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and macular degeneration may be diagnosed using this test.
  •  Fixation test is done to determine whether your eyes are working well together.
  • The outer surface of the eye is checked for scratches and abnormalities which is particularly import for contact lens users.
  • The visual field is tested to find any blind spots.
  •  Ability to focus on both close up and distant objects is tested.
  •  Pupil dilation is done to examine the eyes internal structures. Drops are put into the eye which take 20 to 30 minutes to work. Eyes will be sensitive to light and vision blurred. The effect can take some time to wear off so make sure you have someone to drive you home if you are undergoing this test and bring sunglasses with you. Patients at high risk for disease should undergo dilation as it allows for the most thorough evaluation of the health of the inside of the eye.
Eye problems:
  • Floaters-These appear as specks and they move as your eye moves and disappear as you try to look at them directly. These are often the result of injury, aging or eye disease. They are usually not harmful, but an eye specialist should be consulted.
  • Reading glasses are needed when small print becomes blurry, but there is no problem seeing distant objects. This is a normal condition related to age. Your optometrist should advise you as to whether you need prescription glasses or if over the counter glasses will suffice.
  • Diabetes-High glucose levels can weaken and damage the tiny blood vessels next to the retina. If you are diabetic, regular eye exams are required as recommended by your doctor.
  •  Macular degeneration-: The macular is located at the back of the eye. It enables us to see fine detail and color. Sometimes abnormal deposits are deposited under the retina making it uneven. Over time the retinal cells degenerate and die causing site loss. There are 2 types of macular degeneration. Treatments may include an injection directly into the eye to decrease leakage from the blood vessels, intravenous injections activated by using special laser light and different types of laser surgeries.
  • Dry eye is a common condition caused by the evaporation of tears. Dry eye is a irritating, itchy, burning and gritty feeling in the eye. It is usually treated with over the counter lubricating drops or ointments.
  •  Glaucoma is when the optic nerve is damaged. There are 4 types of glaucoma. 5 % of people over 65 are affected with glaucoma and risk increases with age. If left untreated, it will result in blindness. Glaucoma often has no symptoms and although damage done by glaucoma cannot be repaired, with early diagnosis it can be kept to a minimum. People with a family history should notify their optometrist and undergo regular testing. Testing is done by putting yellow eye drops into the eye- This is not pupil dilation. It is numbing agent with a yellow dye that glows under a blue light. The doctor will touch the surface of your eye with a meter to measure your eye pressure.
  •  Retinoblastoma is a rare form of eye cancer which affects children under 5 years of age. It is treatable but must be treated quickly. Some signs to watch out for include a white reflection in the pupil, squinting where one eye looks in or out, change in color of the iris, absence of red eye in photo’s where one eye has it and the other does not and deterioration in vision. All the above can be symptoms of other conditions, so a doctor’s opinion should be immediately sort.
  •  Night blindness is poor vision when it is dark or experienced when moving from a brightly lit area to an area with dim light. People with night blindness find it difficult to drive at night. This may be caused from poor nutrition, cataracts or problems with the retina. I have suffered from night blindness since childhood but it is not related to any of the above.
  • Astigmatism occurs when the cornea is not spherical in shape.  This is not noticeable by looking at a person and can be easily corrected with prescriptive lenses.
  • Cataracts are the clouding of the lens of the eye and can occur in one or both eyes. Vision is blurred, bright lights are unusually blinding, double vision and changes in color vision may occur.
  • Conjunctivitis or “pink eye” is inflammation of the thin layer that covers the white of the eye. It may occur in one or both eyes. The eyes are red and there is discharge from the eye. It is highly contagious and should be treated immediately. There are over the counter medications obtainable from your pharmacy or in severe cases, a prescription might be required.
  •  Myopia/short sightedness or near sightedness. This is clear vision when looking at items close to you but difficulty in seeing items in the distance. It is easily corrected with prescription lenses which should be worn whilst driving.
  •  Presbyopia is when the eye progressively fails to focus on objects that are near to you. It is a natural and gradual process of ageing. This is caused by deterioration of the elasticity of the lens. This is corrected with prescription lenses, bi focal, trifocals or glasses specifically for reading and different glasses if required for long distance vision. 
 Take care of your eyes:  

1. Wear protective eye wear when working with chemicals or toxic substances.
2. Wear goggles when there is a chance dust or dirt particles may enter your eyes such as when mowing the lawn or using a leaf blower.
 3. Wear UV protective sunglasses when outdoors and whilst driving. Rays reflect off snow, sand and water. UV light is responsible for cataracts and macular degeneration.
 4. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables especially ones containing beta carotene.
 5. Do not wear contact lenses for prolonged periods. Change them when scheduled to, keep them clean and disinfect well after removal. 
6. Don't rub or scrub at your eyes.
7. Remove all eye make up thoroughly before bedtime. Change your mascara every 3 months, use eye pencils you can sharpen as opposed to the self sharpening kind as this will help to disinfect them and never ever share eye makeup products with anyone. Do not use department store testers on or near your eyes.
 8. Don't wipe your eyes with communal towels in the bathroom. Use clean paper towel which can be discarded.
 9. Rest your eyes. Eye strain from reading,working on the computer, constant use of the iPhone or it's equivalent, sewing or work that requires extreme eye concentration can make the muscles around the eye tired. Close your eyes periodically to rest them for awhile.
Interesting eye facts
The average person blinks 12 times a minute.
Sailors once thought that wearing a gold earring would improve their eyesight!

Something fun- What does your eye color say about you?
No two people have the exact same eye color- The eyes show anger, fear, love, sadness and many other emotions so perhaps they are “windows through which others see us.”

There are basically 3 eye colors- Brown, blue and green.  Other colors such as grey, violet and hazel are variants due to the different ratio of pigments in the iris.
  •  Black-black is a mysterious and absolute color. Black eyes indicate a deeply intuitive, secretive and sensual person.
  • Blue- blue eyes indicate a forceful and direct person who has vitality and a gift for incite and observation. Blue eyes are the most desirable color and are becoming rare due to the recessive gene.
  • Brown- brown eyes indicate a strong and independent person who feels a deep connection to nature and the earth.
  • Grey- grey eyes indicate a subtle and sensitive person, flexible and attuned to the unseen.
  • Green- green eyes indicate a youthful- seeming and compassionate person, immensely creative and energetic with the gift of healing. True green eyes are the rarest eye color.
  • Hazel- hazel is a mixture of brown and green and indicates a combination of inner strength and independence with the healing qualities of green.
  • Violet- violet eyes indicate a refined and noble person who is a natural leader and seeker of truth.

Some studies suggest that vitamin C from supplements help prevent cataracts if taken long term (10 years or more). Shorter than 10 years, showed no benefits- Dose used in the study was 150 to 250 mg per day.

Keep healthy, happy and safe.
*Do not take any medications including supplements without first consulting your doctor. Do not self diagnose any medical condition.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.
This policy is subject to change at any time.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Money money money

Today's health and beauty buzz is on money and the impact it has on our health and well being. The latest mega millions lotto reached the record breaking amount of 656 million dollars. It was won by 3 Marylanders. Alas, although I am a Marylander, I am sorry to say that I was not a winner.

Money and marriage:
  • Money or the lack thereof often creates friction in relationships being the top reason for divorce. The best way to avoid disagreements as far as money is concerned is to live within or below one’s means. Research has shown that couples who accumulate assets are 70% less likely to divorce than those whom have accumulated nothing. You are 45% more likely to get divorced if you perceive your spouse to be a foolish spender. This applies to both men and women.
  • Have your own money. Just because you are married, it does not mean that you have to give up being your own person. You each want different things and this is what may have attracted you to each other in the first place. Having to ask your spouse’s permission in order to do or purchase something is not romantic or healthy. The relationship begins to feel parental and controlling instead of being a partnership.
  • Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’s. When one spouse is viewed by the other as being materialistic this is often a huge bone of contention. Remember that the Jones’s are probably in debt up to their eyeballs.
  • Struggling to pay your mortgage and keep food on your table is no one’s idea of a stress free and happy life.
  • High credit card debt has reportedly been a major cause of driving couples towards divorce.  Discuss and agree upon any major purchases you may make over a pre determined amount.
115 million Americans carry credit card debt of at least $10,000.00.   

Good and bad debt- Know the difference.
Good debt is your home, car and college education.
College debt has surpassed credit card debt in the USA and is currently estimated at 1 Trillion dollars. I don't need any reminding of this fact with both my kids presently in college.
Bad debt is your high interest rate credit cards. 

Money and friends:-
Never lend money to friends or family. Lending friends or family money creates bones of contention often alienating you from each other for years or even a life time. Scrutinizing and judging on how “your money” is being spent leads to ill feelings and resentment.
Borrowing money is the easiest way to lose friends or relatives. You may feel uncomfortable, guilty and obligated.
If you have the money and are willing to part with it to assist a loved one or close friend, give it to them. Allow the money to be used as they best see fit without interference and no strings attached. This should be a gift not a loan and should not be mentioned again.

Every family has their own way of money management. You must agree between you which works best for your family. In my family, I am the one who opens all the bills, pays all the bills as well as being the money tracker. This may not work well for all couples as the burden of budgeting and financial responsibility can be stressful. It works well for us.

Having 3 bank accounts is a good idea. Combine incomes if both partners work and open a joint account from which mutually shared expenses are paid such as mortgage payments, taxes, college tuition payments, car payments and everything associated with the general running of the home. Obviously one spouse will be contributing more than the other based upon income.  Distribute left over money (if you are fortunate to have any) equally between you once your bills have been met and savings set aside. This is your “fun money” to spend or save as you choose without interference from your spouse. There can be no arguments if you wish to spend it on 6 new pairs of shoes!

Set aside a pre agreed time to discuss money matters if the need arises. Try not to discuss whilst angrily paying the bills.

Most of us would love to be independently wealthy and day dream about what we would do with our fortunes. Remember that there will always be someone worse off as well as better off than you.

As said by the Beetles - “I don’t care much for money, because money can’t buy me love”.  
Benjamin Franklyn-  “Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.”
My philosophy -  “If you marry for money, you will end up paying for it.” I would rather be with a generous poor man than with a rich stingy one.

Stay happy, healthy and safe.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.
This policy is subject to change at any time.

Friday, April 6, 2012


Spring has sprung! Today’s health and beauty buzz is on allergies. This past winter has been the 4th mildest winter on record in the U.S. (I am certainly not complaining). Allergies are worse this year than ever before according to some allergy suffers. Allergy season has begun earlier due to the unseasonably warm weather and trees are producing pollen at a greater rate than usual. Pollen counts have reached a record high.  45 million Americans suffer from allergies each year making it the 5th leading chronic disease in the U.S. Allergies can develop at any age. Children with one parent who suffers from allergies are 30% likely to develop allergies. If both parents are allergy suffers, then the likelihood is 70%.

Why do we get allergies?

Many different things cause allergies. Allergies occur when the immune system mistakenly identifies certain things such as “pollen” as being dangerous.
Our immune system is composed of white blood cells. Our white blood cells work by identifying threats to the body and then eliminating them. An immune system which is healthy knows not to attack the body and certain things like healthy bacteria and proteins that we get from our food.
Allergic reactions such as in seasonal allergies occur when the white blood cells have identified the pollen as being “dangerous”. The white blood cells release other substances to alert the rest of the body to do what it can to “terminate the invader”. One of these substances is histamine. It is the histamine which floods to the nasal passages that is responsible for the itching, swelling and development of mucus.

Treatment of allergies
Allergies should be treated if severe as non treatment can lead to sinus and inner ear infections as well as worsening symptoms in asthmatics. The trick is to medicate before the symptoms occur.
  1. First course of treatment is over the counter allergy medication obtained at your pharmacy. These antihistamines work by blocking the release of histamines by the white blood cells. These need to be taken on a regular basis as they work better that way. They are best taken at night before bed.  They are not terribly effective once the body’s histamines have already been triggered.  Antihistamines are not localized and go into the blood stream causing side effects such as drowsiness. There are many antihistamines on the market and some work better than others. If you have no luck with one, try a different brand that may work better for you with fewer side effects.
  2. Nasal sprays obtained with a doctor’s script which contain steroids are frequently used to treat seasonal allergies. These steroids go directly into the nasal passages and are localized and not absorbed into the blood stream. They are safe and more effective than antihistamines.
  3. Allergy shots are another option for severe allergy suffers. These are given only once the culprit has been identified by scratch and blood tests performed on you by an allergist. They work by exposing the body to small amounts of the allergen and slowly increasing the dose. The hope is that the body will then begin to ignore it. They are given over the course of several years taking about 3 years to be fully effective. Sometimes allergy shots do not work for all allergies.
Contrary to popular belief, eating honey on a daily basis from a local source does not build up immunity against allergies. This is a myth. There is no such thing as a cure for allergies, except perhaps a “new immune system”. I kid you not. My husband who suffered terribly from seasonal allergies for many years has not been bothered by them since his stem cell transplants and “new immune system!”

Symptoms of allergies- non life threatening
Itchy, swollen and watery eyes are classic allergy symptoms.
Runny nose and congestion of nasal passages and sinuses.
Dry, scratchy throat as well as a sore throat.
Ear pain.
If in doubt as to whether you are suffering from a cold or allergies, there are no fever or chills associated with seasonal allergies.  Allergies also last a lot longer than 7 days.

Symptoms of life threatening allergies
  • Allergies can be extremely serious and should not be taken lightly. Hives (red itchy spots over the body) are often the first sign of allergy. This alone is not indicative of a life threatening allergic reaction.
  • Trouble breathing especially shortness of breath and wheezing.
  • Abdominal pain and vomiting.
  • Sudden and unexplained drop in blood pressure.
Different kinds of allergies

·     The most common allergies are the airborne allergies associated with pollen from trees and grasses.
·     Mold and mildew spores. Mold flourishes in damp, dark and wet places. The spores released into the air are inhaled and can cause an allergic reaction in many people especially asthmatics.
·     Dust and dust mites. Many people are allergic to dust and dust mites. Use a face mask when dusting and vacuuming as well as a vacuum that has a hepa filter. Protective covers for pillows and mattresses may also help.

More serious allergies which may result in death if left untreated are:-
·    Insect bites and stings usually from bees.
·    Food allergies particularly shell fish, peanuts and eggs.
·    Latex allergies- Widely used in hospitals and doctor’s offices. Your doctor/dentist should always check with you before an examination. Many doctors use latex free gloves now as a matter of course.
·    Medications- Many people are allergic to certain antibiotics and other drugs. Make sure you update all your medical records with any allergy information.

People who suffer from life threatening allergies should wear a bracelet to identify the condition as well as having an epi pen within easy reach at all times. Make sure you or your child knows how to use it.

Tips for lessening severity of seasonal allergies
  1. Check the pollen count.
  2. If the count is high, limit outdoor activities.
  3. Pollen counts are higher in the morning so limit outside work to the      afternoons and evenings.
  4. Wear sunglasses.
  5. Keep the windows in your house and car closed.
  6. Install a home hepa filter so your air-conditioned/heated air is cleaner.
  7. Shower immediately you come indoors and wash your hair and clothing so that pollen is not transferred to the sofa and bed.
  8. Wash your bedding frequently and obviously no washing should be dried    outside.
  9. Use a hepa vacuum filter.
  10. Try a humidifier.
  • Butter Bur is said to help relieve itchy eyes and a runny nose without causing drowsiness by decreasing inflammation. Take 1 tablet 2 times a day.
  • There is increasing evidence that vitamin D might reduce inflammation in the nasal passages. 600 IU of vitamin D a day might help.
  • Probiotics can restore gut bacteria to a healthy balance, minimizing overreactions in the immune system that can lead to allergy symptoms. Taking a supplement with 3 to 5 billion CFUs daily could be beneficial.
  • The Mediterranean diet of fruits, vegetables and nuts have been shown to protect against symptoms as have foods high in vitamin C(citrus, broccoli, kale) and folate(turkey, chicken, lentils,spinach).
  • There are also foods to avoid. Some allergy sufferers also experience" Oral Allergies" which is a tingly itchy feeling on the lips, tongue and throat after eating certain raw foods. It can be uncomfortable. If you are allergic to tree pollen, you maybe sensitive to carrots, cherries, peaches, plums, almonds and walnuts. If you are allergic to ragweed, you might react to melons, bananas, strawberries and cucumbers.
  • Avoid alcohol. The bacteria and yeast it contains produce histamines which can worsen allergy symptoms. 

Wishing you all a healthy, happy and safe Easter.

*Remember to discuss the use of any medication use including vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter drugs with your physician prior to use.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.
This policy is subject to change at any time.