Friday, February 28, 2014
You can't control the amount of time you spend on this planet, but you can control what you contribute while you're here. These contributions don't have to be major endeavors. Cook a meal instead of buying one. Play a game instead of watching one. Write a paragraph instead of reading one. You don't have to create big contributions, you just need to live out small ones each day.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Here, six common culprits and what you can do to avoid sickness.
Monday, February 17, 2014
Remember when Anderson Cooper wore that eye patch? He sunburned his eyes while jet skiing in Portugal on a "60 Minutes" assignment, and while he didn't technically lose his sight, he wore it to protect his eye while it healed. If you don't want that to happen to you, always wear a broad-brimmed hat and shades, making sure they protect against ultraviolet rays (look for a special sticker that says, "100 percent UV blocking"). Exposure to UV rays damages the retina and increases your risk of cloudiness on your eye, also known as cataracts. It also makes you more likely to get skin cancer on your eyelids, says Vinay Aakalu, M.D., assistant professor of ophthalmology and ocular facial plastic surgery at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Drops that take the red out make your eyes look better because they temporarily constrict blood vessels, but the inflammation can come back. "After a few hours, they stop working, and the blood vessels dilate, making the eyes often appear redder than they were to start," says Stephanie Marioneaux, M.D., an ophthalmologist and clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
About 3.5 million women and 1.5 million men in the U.S. suffer from moderate to severe ocular dryness (a.k.a. "dry eyes"). Lubricating drops usually come in bottles with preservatives and using them too many times can actually irritate your eyes. It's more costly, but better, to get individual blister packs of artificial tears if you're going to use them more than four times a day. If you're treating itchy eyes, keep your drops in the refrigerator. "The coolness helps to take away that itchy sensation," says Artis Montague, M.D., an ophthalmologist who is clinic director of Stanford's Byers Eye Institute. Also, avoid rubbing your dry eyes, and use a humidifier to increase moisture in your home.
Blinking helps distribute fluid throughout your eyes. But when you focus on a computer, you blink less often than usual. "You should be blinking 12 to 15 times per minute, so staring at the computer generally means you are not blinking enough," says Marioneaux. "Your tears evaporate, your vision becomes smeary, and your eyes may burn and water. Blink!" Reading very small print for prolonged periods of time causes your eyes to work too hard, so be sure to look up from your screen and look at something far away every so often. One more reason to decrease screen time: New data suggests that looking at small print on mobile devices may stimulate the gene for nearsightedness.
Use fresh cleaning solution daily and never put them in your mouth or rinse them in water, says Marioneaux. Many ophthalmologists recommend daily disposables. And never wear contact lenses in the shower, hot tubs, swimming pools, or the ocean. To ensure your eyes get enough oxygen, don't sleep in your contacts. Also, don't just order lenses without seeing an eye doctor to get them fit properly. Otherwise, you increase your risk of getting infections. "If the contact lens fits like a suction cup, then removing it may cause a small scratch on the cornea, which becomes an entry for bad bacteria that may cause serious eye infections," says Marioneaux.
To avoid exposure to infection-causing bacteria, toss cosmetics after three months, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. And always, always remove your makeup before bed.
Don't just save your goggles for swimming. If you're mowing the lawn, using a weed whacker, or doing home repairs, put some on to protect yourself from any flying debris, which can cause abrasions in the cornea. Make sure anyone nearby, especially children, also have protective eyewear on.
You shouldn't be smoking for a lot of reasons, but here's another one: It increases the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration (the progressive deterioration of part of the retina). "It impairs the ability of your body to provide adequate nutrition and oxygenation to tissues, and that includes the tissues in your eye," says Ian Conner, M.D., an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Visit the ophthalmologist -- especially if you have eye-affecting conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to blindness, warns Montague.
Don't assume that flashing lights, pain, fuzzy vision, redness, or light sensitivity will vanish automatically, says Anne Sumers, M.D., an ophthalmologist who is a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "To me, the five most dangerous words in the English language are, 'Maybe it will go away.'" If you see things floating around and then turning fuzzy, it could mean your retina is coming off, she says. Get to the ophthalmologist quickly: "A delay in diagnosis can mean much more complex surgery and a more guarded prognosis for recovery of vision."
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
from The Oh She Glows Cookbook
1 sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups sliced cremini or white button mushrooms (about 8 ounces)
1 cup chopped carrots
2 cups chopped broccoli florets
Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 to 3 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 cups vegetable broth
2 large nori seaweed sheets, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) strips (optional)
2 cups (500 mL) torn kale leaves
Fresh lemon juice, for serving (optional)
Thursday, February 6, 2014
A report this week from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office contains a section that mentions how health-care reform offers many people relief from “job lock.”
That’s a reference to those who stick with a job simply to maintain their employer-based health insurance. Until the Affordable Care Act, they had no other option. Now, many people – perhaps 2 million or more – will be able to take advantage of new subsidies for health insurance and the new marketplaces for individual policies.
Simply put, many people have options for health insurance that no longer depend on a job. They’ll be able to retire earlier, adjust their work life with home life, work fewer hours, start a business or pursue other vocations. It’s their choice.
Those are good things, right? But opponents of the Affordable Care Act have trotted out the usual histrionics, shouting about “job killing” and destruction of the economy, accusations that have no factual basis. Some even call it “willful stupidity.”
The deceptive rhetoric ties in with the detractors' stated desire to return to the good old days of allowing insurance companies to reject health care to individuals because of a previous illness. They’d also create more havoc for consumers by allowing health policies to be sold across state lines, which would weaken protections and hurt in-state firms.
The caution and suggestion here is to dig a little deeper below the headlines. But don’t take just our word on this. Check out what a professor of pediatrics from the Midwest had to say about the newest criticism of the Affordable Care Act.
And see how health reform is already helping and will further assist Washington citizens in our updated report on the uninsured in our state.
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
The Washington state Legislature today held a hearing on Senate Bill 6464, which would allow Washington consumers to purchase catastrophic plans from states outside of Washington. In November, Insurance Commissioner Kreidler said allowing catastrophic plans is not “a good deal for Washington state.” Furthermore, allowing consumers to purchase out-of-state plans opens the door for health insurers to skirt Washington’s regulations that protect consumers.
Washington citizens have been covered by health insurance through the Washington Healthplanfinder for a little more than a month now. Let’s take a look at the numbers so far:
- We recently published a report on uninsured and underinsured people in Washington for 2012. Approximately 14.5 percent of Washington citizens were uninsured before 2014, exceeding 990,000 people.
- More than 325,000 people have purchased health insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder.
- 33.1 percent of eligible Washingtonians have purchased health insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder, leading the country alongside Vermont, with 33.4 percent, in percentage of people insured, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
- Washington expanded Medicaid, now called Apple Health, to cover more than 516,000 people who qualify for free health insurance. Washington will eventually expand its coverage to more than 800,000 people who qualify.
- Other benefits under the Affordable Care Act are no out-of-pocket costs to consumers for preventive care; people with chronic medical conditions like multiple sclerosis, heart disease or cancer no longer can be denied coverage; and health insurers can no longer hold consumers to an annual or lifetime maximum limit on what they will pay for.
Today, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office released a report projecting the Affordable Care Act will allow people to leave traditional full-time jobs—the ones that historically have provided medical insurance—because they now can sign up through a state or federal Health Benefit Exchange. The side of that story the media isn’t telling, however, is that people who’ve historically been locked into those jobs can pursue other types of work – starting a small business, working as an independent contractor from home, pursuing a career as an artisan or writer, or many other options that will still benefit the economy. The ACA allows them to pursue whatever line of work they wish to, because they are not beholden to an 8-to-5 office or government job in order to have health insurance.
In fact, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Urban Institute and Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute in 2013 reported that the number of self-employed Americans is projected to increase by 1.5 million people this year—11 percent-- as a direct result of their ability to get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Read more in the New York Times Economix blog. In Washington state, that number is projected to increase by 30,000, or 8.7 percent.