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How to Help Protect Your Eyes and Ears This Summer

Outdoor concerts and activities are synonymous with summer, offering Texans an opportunity to enjoy the warmer weather. But these traditions often have a connection to the health of your eyes and ears, so it is important to be mindful as we celebrate the summer and all that goes with it.

Here are several summertime settings to take note of to help protect your eyes and ears: 

A Day in the Sun
If you’re planning an outing that involves many hours in the sun, it is a good idea to use eye protection in addition to sunscreen. 

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause damage to both your skin and your eyes. UV rays may contribute to the development of cataracts and macular degeneration, which may result in blindness. Intense short-term exposure to UV light may cause “eye sunburn,” a painful condition associated with outdoor recreational activity. 

Too much long-term exposure may contribute to skin cancer around the eyes and sight-threatening conditions. To help reduce these risks, protect your eyes from the sun by wearing sunglasses that block out 99% or more of UV rays and a wide-brimmed hat. 

Keep in mind that it is important for people – especially children – to get outside and take breaks from digital devices. Studies show that natural light can promote healthy vision, especially among children and teens with developing eyes, and that spending time outside may be a protective factor against nearsightedness. Partly due to extended periods of up-close reading and screen time, more than 40% of Americans have nearsightedness (myopia), which is the inability to see far off objects clearly, and the percentage is growing.

Sounds of Summer
Summer is also a popular time for sporting events and music concerts, which can lead to exposure to loud sounds. Crowd noise at some sporting events can exceed 90 decibels; music concerts can exceed 115 decibels. Prolonged exposure to sounds above 85 decibels may contribute to gradual hearing loss, so it is a good idea to use ear protection – such as earplugs or earmuffs – when seeing your favorite team or band. This type of protection is especially important for babies and children attending loud events, as young people’s hearing follicles are more easily damaged compared to those of adults.   

Likewise, extended listening to music or digital content through headphones or earbuds may damage hearing over time. To help prevent that, turn the volume on your electronic device to 60 percent or lower and listen for no longer than 60 minutes at a time. When using power tools or a lawn mower, never listen to earbuds.   

Considering these tips may help you focus on fun, friends and family during the summer, while helping maintain your eye and ear health – and as a result contribute to your overall health – now and in the future.

Tips to Help Stay Safe at Work

For most Texans the workplace is typically a safe spot. Yet each year private-industry employers report approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries or illnesses, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

While many of these occur due to the hazardous nature of some professions – logger, for instance – injuries can occur at office jobs, too. Carpel tunnel syndrome, for instance, affects as many as 1.9 million people and may be connected to poor workspace ergonomics, such as the improper placement of your desk, chair, and computer monitor or keyboard. 

June is National Safety Month, an opportune time to consider ways to reduce your risk of workplace accidents and injuries. From sprains and pulled muscles to more serious injuries that may cause a hospital stay, physical pain can take many forms, and have a significant impact on productivity and your day-to-day life.

Here are some tips to consider to help protect yourself from potential workplace injuries:

Watch your surroundings and use safety gear: Be wary of wet floors, and loose cables and carpeting, which can cause unexpected falls. If you want to reach something high up, don’t use unstable surfaces or chairs as ladders. If recommended for your job, wear protective gear such as earplugs, safety googles, gloves or hard hats.

Lift items as safely as possible: When trying to pick up boxes or heavy items, squat to the floor and use your legs instead of your back to rise. It’s important to use the strength in your legs and keep your back straight – and keep your core engaged – the entire time. The same should be done when setting down heavy objects.

Position your workstation ergonomically: You may develop musculoskeletal issues from sitting at a desk that doesn’t match your body – a screen that is too low or high, a chair that doesn’t support your back or if your wrists are positioned at an awkward angle. Generally, when working at a computer, people’s hands, wrists and forearms are straight, in-line and parallel to the floor. Click here for more steps to help set up your workstation to minimize potential injuries.   

Take short breaks and get a good night’s sleep: Don’t forget to take a few minutes during your day to stretch and walk around to prevent soreness, especially when doing repetitive tasks. It may also be a good idea to warm-up before you start the workday. Also, being well rested is important: This helps you be more productive, and keeps you more alert and capable of preventing injuries like falls. Getting enough sleep can also help reduce stress and anxiety. 

Seek support if injured: If you are hurt at work, seek medical attention (if needed) and notify your supervisor and HR department. To qualify for workers’ compensation, employees must notify their company – in writing – as soon as possible, with specific notice requirements varying significantly by state. Also, employees should check if they have access to an accident protection plan, which can provide a cash payout following a workplace injury and, in some instances, offer support from a case manager to help with recovery.  

Texas Ranks High for In-Home Senior Care

Texas is one of the top states for the number of home health care workers available to residents 75 years or older, according to the recently-released Senior Report from the United Health Foundation’s 2019 America’s Health Rankings.

The report reveals that nationally there are 550,000 more home health care workers than last year – a 21 percent rate increase per 1,000 adults age 75 and older. Medicare decedents’ use of hospice care, which can be provided while living at home, has increased in all 50 states and 48 percent overall since 2013.

Texas is also recognized as a top state for hospice care use and for its low prevalence of smoking.

Overall, the 2019 Senior Report ranks Texas the 40th healthiest state for seniors.

30 Years of America’s Health Rankings
The America’s Health Rankings Annual Report is the longest-running annual assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis. In its 30th year, the Annual Report analyzes a comprehensive set of behaviors, community and environmental conditions, policies, clinical care, and outcomes data to provide a holistic view of the health of the nation.

You can read more about each state’s highlights and challenges, as well as how they rank, by accessing the America’s Health Rankings Senior Report at