4 July, 2008

10 Things Your Eye Doctor Won’t Tell You

Filed under: English — tymask @ 1:55 pm

1. “Optometrist, ophthalmologist — what does it really matter?”
For years it was as plain as that big “E” on the wall: Optometrists, who have a doctor of optometry degree, checked you for glasses, and ophthalmologists, who are M.D.s, treated you for eye diseases. But the lines have blurred, so to speak. Over the past two decades, all 50 states have widened rules to allow optometrists to treat many of the same medical conditions that M.D.s do. In Oklahoma, despite protests from the American Medical Association, optometrists can now perform some surgeries, too.

While optometrists say that their degree now covers all the skills needed to treat eye diseases, many M.D.s still argue it’s no substitute for medical school. Which should you use? A rule of thumb: For regular checkups and problems affecting the outside of the eye, such as allergies or dry eye, an optometrist is sufficient. (Two sites for locating good ones: the American Academy of Optometry’s, and the American Optometric Association’s.) But if you experience symptoms such as loss of vision or flashing light, or if your optometrist finds signs of a cataract or macular degeneration, it merits a visit to an M.D.



10 Things Your Dentist Won’t Tell You

Filed under: English — tymask @ 1:54 pm

1. “You really don’t need to see me every six months.”
If you’re like most people, you see your dentist twice a year — just like those appointment postcards in your mailbox say you should. But where did the rule originate? In a comic book written more than 150 years ago — English satirist George Cruikshank’s The Toothache — and the biannual checkup has been gospel ever since. But it isn’t ideal for everyone.

“A six-month checkup means everybody has the same risk for disease, and that doesn’t make very much sense,” says Douglas Benn, oral and maxillofacial radiologist and professor emeritus at the University of Florida. “If you look at the typical middle-class population, the majority are not at high risk for lots of decay and gum disease; they probably don’t need to be seen every six months.” A number of studies support Benn’s view, finding no appreciable benefit from biannual visits for all patients. Still, a 2003 survey by the American Dental Association confirmed 53% of the U.S. population reported seeing a dentist within the past six months.

Have a conversation with your dentist about appointment frequency. You may be one of the lucky folks who don’t need such frequent checkups.


10 Things Your Veterinarian Won’t Tell You

Filed under: English — tymask @ 1:53 pm

1. “Good thing you love Schatzi like a son. His care could cost as much.”
After a New York City taxi struck Jessica Malionek’s dog, Mojo, flinging him 30 feet in the air, she spent $4,000 for veterinarians to perform emergency treatment and then life-saving surgeries on her beloved dog. “It was like they were treating a person,” Malionek says.

These days veterinary medicine can be every bit as sophisticated as human health care — and the costs reflect it. Animal lovers spent $19 billion on veterinary care in 2001, the most recent figure available, up from $7.2 billion a decade earlier, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. And per-visit costs are skyrocketing: Between 1991 and 2001, the average cost of a veterinary visit for a dog nearly doubled, from $50 to $99. For cats, costs rose even more precipitously, jumping by 107%.

Why the steep price hikes? Chris Green, an attorney and member of the American Veterinary Medical Law Association, says vets are happily obliging owners who want to keep their pets alive at all costs. That means paying up for the latest high-tech procedures, such as feline kidney transplants and CAT scans. There are also more aged pets today, which require more care.


10 Things Your Fitness Club Won’t Tell You

Filed under: English — tymask @ 1:51 pm

1. “If you’re still here in April, it’ll be a miracle.”
The fitness craze is going gangbusters, with gym attendance up 23% since 2001, to 41.3 million, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). And most new recruits sign up in January — the busiest month for fitness clubs. That’s when well-intentioned souls trying to stick to their New Year’s resolutions flood their local gyms, often resulting in long lines at the treadmill, overtaxed gym staff and towel shortages in the locker room. But it won’t be long before the throngs thin; most resolution makers trip up in the first 90 days, says Alan Marlatt, director of the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington. And indeed, that’s what clubs expect. “They bet on it,” says Meg Jordan, editor of American Fitness, adding that most gyms count on a 20 to 30% dropout rate.

In the meantime, there are ways to avoid January overcrowding and make it past the 90-day hump. When selecting a new gym, visit the facility during the time of day you’re most likely to attend. If it’s crowded, check to see whether waiting lists and time limits on machines are enforced or whether it’s a free-for-all.