Review Category : Contributors

Ten reasons to be thankful for your dog

By Tracie Korol

We just came through the Day of Gratitude around a groaning dining table and we declared gratefulness for friends, family and the beautiful day.  How many of us reserved a few moments to consider the many reasons to feel thankful for our Best Friends. Next time you’re giving thanks, remember to honor the ones who don’t judge but actually love, the ones that live with you without rules and expectations, the ones that will always give you unconditional loyalty.

Here are some of MY reasons to be thankful for dogs:

10. No matter what food product drops on the floor, a Best Friend will hoover it up before actually considering what it is.  Once it’s on the floor, anything is food. A dog is the finest accessory to child-rearing: they’ll catch the highchair spillover before it hits the floor, clean up messy baby splooges and always be available to assist with messy faces and fingers. They’ll catch the crumbs you can’t even see.

9. When you’re down and out with the flu, hacking and snotting and leaving a trail of bacteria wherever you go, and your family and friends will not come near you, your dog will ever be at your side. He’ll be your mobile heating pad, curled against your aching back, he’ll shuffle along with you when you get another cup of tea and he’ll keep his head near your hand in case you need some reassurance that you’ll live to see the next day.

8. Your dog will bark like mad when someone pulls in the drive or a stranger comes to the door. It’s nice to have a feeling of security.

7. If not for our dogs, many of us would never get off the couch. Every day at the same time our Best Friends give us The Look, that persistent stare that means “Let’s go for a walk!!! Huh?Huh?Huh?”  That walk is your dog’s connection to the world, and yours, too. Think about all the nice people you’ve met, the early evening sunset you would otherwise have missed if you weren’t on the road, as well as the extra pounds you did not gain because you and your Best Friend moved your tails.

6. A dog’s loyalty cannot be measured. They are willing to revel in the glory or keep quiet and take the blame. They will not smirk when you’re naked, laugh at your singing or gossip to the neighbor dogs about your episodes of questionable behavior. They will never disclose who done it.

5. Our dogs don’t care how many countries we’ve visited, what car we drive or what people we know. In their eyes, we’re number one all the time. It’s a tall order to always be on top but their devotion is a great reminder of our jobs to make sure we provide them the best care, training and attention we can offer. “Be the person your dog thinks you are” is a great reminder of how special we are to them each and every day.

4. Our dogs know the value of sitting in a sunbeam. There are times we need to be reminded of that.

3. Dogs put things in perspective. Let’s face it, at some point in our lives with our pets something is going to get chewed, thrown up on or otherwise ruined. The best we can do is realize that the shoes, carpets and all the other things they get into are just objects. We’ll never love any of that stuff as much as we love our dogs and as impossible as it seems, we will get over having to throw out the really expensive, designer, prescription, chewed-up eyeglasses.

2. Dogs will make you smile when they run with abandon for no particular reason and to no particular destination.

1. And finally, every day we can wake up and watch our dogs embrace each new morning as if it is going to be grand. They don’t look back; they don’t worry about the future. They do not hold the past. They assume all is great. I try to learn from them because I think they Get It. I think they really know what it means to live each day as if it’s the only day, and live it to the fullest. I am so grateful for dogs. What great teachers they are.

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Playing games in my dreams

By Lee Scott

Last night, I dreamt that I was in a mall, driving a little dune buggy, climbing up escalators, cascading along walls, hopping on ramps and zooming down past numerous stores. And my name was Luigi.

When I woke up I realized two things. First of all,  I am not a mall person and second, as far as I know, there are no malls close to me. Where did that dream come from?  Suddenly it dawned on me: The Super Mario Brothers.

I have actually been practicing the video game Mario Kart on my Wii (a gift from my daughter). My husband will tell you that I am a bit competitive, so my lack of skills at this race car game is bothersome. I know that playing Mario Kart is not top on my list of the things to do here in the Lowcountry, but evidently, my subconscious is telling me something. I must practice before I see my 5-year-old grandson Finnegan.

He is ruthless in the game and I can hear his voice the last time we played: “I have passed you again, Nina,” he smirks with those big dimples. How do I ever beat this kid? My player, Luigi, did not cooperate and my poor little dune buggy kept getting turned around and going backwards. I was totally out of my league with Finn as he soared past me multiple times and said  “I’m on lap 3.”

I was born in a generation where the most significant equivalent to a video game was a little portable plastic pinball machine. You pulled the red lever, the ball would snap out and your task was to maneuver the ball to the end of the maze. I think Cracker Jack had a miniature cardboard version of this game.

Now, I do think it is important for young children to know the thrill of winning but frankly, I think he is the one who should be deferring to me.

Hence my dreaming about a mall. But it dawned at me that I don’t need to go running around malls on a video game.  When Finn comes to visit, I will let him beat me a few times at the game. Then I will take him out for some memorable games, such as counting shooting stars, or seeing who can see the sun rise first at Hunting Beach or counting dolphins in the creek. Now those are games I can dream about.

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The last goodbye: Remembrances

By Tracie Korol

Our spiritual beliefs can play a part in how we process our pets’ passing. Those who practice a religious faith may turn to their church, temple, or synagogue or might seek out other religious and spiritual supports.

Humans have a fear of death; animals do not. Humans are also fear-based; animals are not. We tend to project our human emotions onto our dogs.

I believe that animals do not view the moving from one life form to another the in the same way we do. As a Reiki practitioner I look at an animal’s passing as it’s “transition”.  I also believe, even when they are physically gone, they don’t ever leave us.  There is a gypsy saying that if just one person remembers a loved one, that loved one is still alive in spirit.

If you are willing to look at death as a natural, profound and even beautiful part of life, it becomes easier for your animal to relax and either gets well or leaves peacefully.  I often counsel, when the time nears, to sit quietly with a Best Friend, listen as best you can, make peace with your animal friend, remember your life shared together, thank them for their time and devotion and finally, let them know that you are willing to let them go.

Selfishly, the day before Bea died I told her she couldn’t go, that I needed her and that it was too hard to see her fail. I put the burden on my friend to handle my feelings by requiring her to continue living.  The next day she told me she had to go. I took a picture of her at that moment. There is no mistaking the look in her eyes.  We spent time that last day in thanks, and love and with Reiki, I could ease her transition gently. While the loss of Bea’s physical presence was crushing, the connection to her spirit helps me put the whole process in perspective.  Her energy transitioned from a physical form that I was able to share for 17 years to one that I am now aware of, but just can’t see.

Memorializing our pets is a way to preserve memories and honor our canine friends plus, it helps to process our loss.  Rituals can focus, center, and calm us and convert something painful into something less painful. Ted Kerasote writes in his book, “Merle’s Door,” of the tribute paid by his entire community, to Merle, his amazing, yet run of the mill dog, upon his death.

Merle was sent on his journey in a Native American tradition but the list of remembrances for our personal pets can be endless. For instance: light candles, plant trees or flowers, write poetry or music in tribute and memory to your Best Friend. Create a memorial plaque: I still have the marker my son, then aged 9, made for Oblio, (the best cat ever) a testament to heart, creativity and amateur carpentry. It’s one of the most precious things I own. Create a special place in your home for ashes, photos, flowers, and mementos such as collars or favorite toys. Or, send a donation, in your pet’s name to an animal related cause.

Planning for and subsequently dealing with the loss of a canine companion is possibly one of the hardest, most painful situations we encounter. Preparing for the loss will be difficult, but might be the best decision you can make to help your friend transition peacefully and with honor.  Once he is gone and your pain is omnipresent, remember that with the gift of time, you will recover and the pain will go away. Wonderful memories will remain.

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Self-control important in financial markets

By Charles Tumlin

It turns out that one of the best predictors of future success is the ability to manage “hot” emotional states and to learn self-control. The past two months in the equity markets have given just that opportunity once again.

Stanford psychologist Walter Mischel concocted an experiment involving 4-year-olds and marshmallows to test self-control back in the 1960s, and only understood its significance much later.

As Jonah Lehrer writes in The New Yorker: “For decades, psychologists have focused on raw intelligence as the most important variable when it comes to predicting success in life. Mischel argues that intelligence is largely at the mercy of self-control: even the smartest kids still need to do their homework.”

This is very true in financial markets. Temperament trumps brains when it comes to making money over the long run. You can have a great plan, but if you do not have the discipline to execute it, the plan is useless.

News flow in financial markets — much of it alarming, since scary new always gets better ratings — gives investors a multitude of opportunities to behave badly. The best strategy? Distract yourself.

At the time, psychologists assumed that children’s ability to wait depended on how badly they wanted the marshmallow. But it soon became obvious that every child craved the extra treat. What, then, determined self-control? Mischel’s conclusion, based on hundreds of hours of observation, was that the crucial skill was the “strategic allocation of attention.” Instead of getting obsessed with the marshmallow — the “hot stimulus” — the patient children distracted themselves by covering their eyes, pretending to play hide-and-seek underneath the desk, or singing songs from “Sesame Street.” Their desire wasn’t defeated, it was merely forgotten. “If you’re thinking about the marshmallow and how delicious it is, then you’re going to eat it,” Mischel says. “The key is to avoid thinking about it in the first place.”

According to Mischel, this view of will power also helps explain why the marshmallow task is such a powerfully predictive test. “If you can deal with hot emotions, then you can study for the S.A.T. instead of watching television,” Mischel says. “And you can save more money for retirement. It’s not just about marshmallows.”

As Mr. Mischel points out, it’s not just about marshmallows. When clients ask me what to do in volatile markets, I only half-jokingly suggest that they read the sports pages. Focusing on the business news is just going to make you more likely to react. The more impulsive you are, the more likely you are to make a poor decision.

Self-control is very important when using return factors, none of which offer smooth sailing. Whether you are implementing relative strength or deep value or whatever, the market is going to gyrate and test you — basically do everything possible to get you to abandon your plan. A systematic, rules-based approach can be very helpful in this regard. If you have chosen a successful long-term strategy, more than anything else, your results are going to be dictated by how well you can follow it over the long run.

This article was written by Dorsey, Wright and Associates, Inc., and provided to you by Wells Fargo Advisors and Charles Tumlin, Financial Advisor in Beaufort, SC, 211 Scott Street, (843) 524-1114.  You cannot directly invest in an index. Wells Fargo Advisors did not assist in the preparation of this article, and its accuracy and completeness are not guaranteed. Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE. Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Member SIPC, is a registered broker-dealer and a separate non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

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Professional volunteers

By Lee Scott

What happens to a person when they retire? I was pondering this question earlier this fall when I attended the Friends of the Beaufort County Library book sale at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. As my husband and I walked around the endless tables filled with history books, cook books, fiction and non-fiction, we had a chance to talk to the volunteers.

The entire team there had such energy and enthusiasm for the book sale and thanked us for supporting the fundraiser.  It was interesting to discover that many of these volunteers  came  to the Beaufort community from all over the United States. A majority of them were Baby Boomers who came here after working in their professions for 30 or 40 years; professions that defined them. When I asked a few of them what they did before retiring, their responses were, “I used to be … (fill in the blank)”  a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher, a business owner or a soldier.

The truth is that just because someone has stopped practicing a profession doesn’t mean they have stopped being that professional. Doctors don’t stop being doctors and lawyers don’t stop being lawyers. We can’t disregard the years of education, training and experience that come with any career.   Thankfully, all that talent does not disappear when the paycheck stops.

We are lucky to be living in an area with so many “unpaid professionals” who contribute  unpaid volunteer hours to our community. According to the Volunteering in America  website,, South Carolina registered 133.4 million hours of volunteer service in 2013.

There is an incredible amount of talent working without pay to help strengthen our community. Many nonprofits, for example Friends of Caroline Hospice, Habitat for Humanity and multiple local churches, depend on these professionals.

And  many  of the veterans who return to this area donate their unpaid hours  to military-related nonprofit organizations such as The Wounded Warrior Project and Wreaths across America.

It is very clear to me that the volunteers in our community are not “used to bees” — they are vibrant individuals translating all that energy and  knowledge to help improve our community. Retirement has a whole new look to it now.

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Turkeys and dogs CAN be friends

By Tracie Korol

The holiday season opens soon with all the rich foods, relatives, decorations and happy chaos. As we settle into the hustle, let’s remember our Best Friends appreciate happy, safe holidays, too.  When planning for the holiday season, consider the following:

Train, don’t complain: Our dogs don’t come pre-programmed; they rely on us to teach them acceptable behavior. Jumping up, stealing food, counter cruising, idiot barking and digging are all perfectly normal behaviors … to our dogs. Unfortunately, they are also behaviors that irritate owners. When holiday houseguests arrive, when there’s an excited energy in the air and when the household is completely off schedule it becomes the perfect time for our dogs to engage in unwanted activities.  Help remind your dog to remember what is expected of him by practicing and rewarding desired behaviors on a daily basis before the big day arrives. Even your old, well-trained been-around-forever dog will welcome the attention of a brush-up of basic skills.

The gift of management: In a perfect world our dogs would behave like those robot-dogs in the Hallmark specials.  However, in the real world we need to affect our management skills to out-think or pre-think our beloved pets. Use your dog tools — baby gates, tethers and x-pens are extremely useful in keeping Rooster out of the high-level distraction entertainment zones. Whenever possible, give your dog something to do rather than let him get creative and find something to do. Pre-gift your dog a stuffed Kong or a Buster Cube. Working a food puzzle or a chew is the dog equivalent of “sit and color”.

Cooking or catastrophe? On Thanksgiving Day + 1 where would you rather be — lounging on the couch with your dog, hitting the Black Friday sales, or at the vet’s office praying that your dog makes it to T-day + 2?  The best safety tip for Thanksgiving is: Keep Rooster out of kitchen! Not only will this prevent his unwanted interaction with highly desirable contraband, accidental injury from falling pots or knives but it also prevents you from tripping over him and finding yourself in the ER. Remember, dogs are not discriminating when it comes to yummy foods; they are happy to eat greasy turkey flavored baking string, napkins, toothpicks, shrink-wrap, pop up timers, roasting bags, skewers, tin foil and styrofoam plates. Plus, your vet is happy to fish it out of your Best Friend for a hefty fee. Push cooking gear to the rear of the counters and put up the trash cans before you sit down to dinner.

Leave the leftovers: While it’s nice to think we’re going to maintain a good diet through the holidays, the solution is not peeling off the turkey skin and handing it to the nearest dog. Rich, fatty foods will cause stomach problems ranging from simple upsets all over the carpet to pancreatitis, a serious condition often requiring hospitalization. At your holiday table, provide tiny bowls of kibble or baby carrots for guests, who might feel guilty in their own personal gluttony, to slip to the dog lurking under the table.

Respect each other: Avoid forcing your dog on non-dog people and do not let your guests force themselves on your dog. Some folks become very uneasy upon getting “haired up”, and conversely, some dogs do not care to serve as eye-poking-fodder for the curious grandchild. Set clear ground rules for how your dog is to be treated and if necessary, be prepared to remove your Best Friend if guests are unable or unwilling to follow them.  Watch your dog for signs that he’s uncomfortable—yawning, lip licking, turning away or actively trying to get to anywhere else. Keep an eye out for “the freeze”, a clear dog sign that someone is about to be bitten. If you know your dog has a fear or aggression issue, do everyone a favor and park him, with his Kong, in his crate, away from the action.

And, finally, be grateful. Your Best Friend provides companionship for your most mundane activities, cuddles when you’re blue, a warning bark for the noise in the night, a playmate and exercise partner and he doesn’t snicker when he sees you naked. That’s a really good friend.

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What am I pretending not to know?

By Martha O’Regan

This question rose up in me several months ago and I jotted it down like I do when something comes to mind that doesn’t feel like my own — something that is deep but feels really important to ponder. Frankly, I didn’t really like this question so I turned the page quickly only to stumble on it several times since then … again, just moving right along.  But each time the question was repeated in my mind, the more I became aware of how much I was choosing not to know, see or hear in several areas of my life. It made me realize that although there are many things we truly don’t know because we’ve never learned it, there are many things we don’t want to know because it would mean changing something in our lives that could be uncomfortable, boring or just simply unpleasant.

As an example, I have used a non-dairy creamer in my coffee for a very long time, refusing to read the ingredients like I do most everything else I put in my body (you did catch the “most” part?)  I didn’t want it to change my morning ritual so I consciously ignored the obvious every time I made my coffee. Then I “accidentally” clicked on an article while on Facebook that went on to describe all of the poisons in non-dairy creamers and what they do to the body.  Darn it! Now I can no longer pretend not to know! So, off I went in search of an alternative with fewer evils. I must say, I am grateful the article appeared before me because I do feel better without all that extra poison.  Why was I pretending not to know something that was actually harmful?

We humans are so quirky, aren’t we?  We know what we know and keep doing what we do, even it isn’t serving our highest good.  Up to now, these habits, patterns and behaviors have all been created through unconscious repetition of thought and/or action over days, weeks, years or decades, both by us and around us. All repetition creates a neural pathway or a messaging signal from the brain that over time becomes our personal reality, also known as our personality. This embedded behavior or habit can be either healthful or harmful.  Once we stop pretending not to know the ones that aren’t supporting our health, happiness and success, we can begin to un- or re- create patterns through conscious repetition of empowering thoughts or supporting action. It really is quite simple — just not so easy — right up until it is.  This is the magical moment that “shift” happens and you’re off on a new direction with a new personal reality.

So, what are you pretending not to know? What are you choosing to do that deep down you just know is keeping you from a more abundant and vital existence? At first, the question can be a real nuisance, so feel free to ask it to return when you are more prepared to contemplate it.  Each time it gently rises from deep within or brightly appears like a neon sign, just allow the question to dance around in your mind. Over time, you can’t help but begin to pay attention to the nudgings, ah ha’s and wow moments that show up in your thoughts, conversations and experiences slowly aligning you on a more healthful and joyful path.

You’ll notice that with repetition, you can no longer pretend to stay unaware of that limiting behavior, and instead begin repeating a new mantra, exercise or nutritional habit. At first, it will feel as though you are trying to turn an aircraft carrier from a dead stop, but eventually momentum picks up and you will notice you’ve made a 180 degree turn and are back in the steady flow of your intended joyful journey. Live Awake in JOY!

Martha O’Regan, is Your ‘B.E.S.T. Life’ Coach, supporting you in Creating and Allowing the B.E.S.T. Life of your Dreams!  Contact her at 843/812-1328 or to discover just how easy it can be to create change in your life.

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‘You don’t know me’

By Lee Scott

“Nancy Pong, you don’t know me!”

This was a line from a Jennifer Lopez movie, “The Wedding Planner.” The scene goes something like this: After having a few drinks too many, Mary,  Jennifer Lopez’s character, realizes that she can’t find her keys and starts to buzz her neighbor’s buzzers to let her into the building. As she presses the button for Nancy Pong’s apartment, Mary admits to herself that Nancy doesn’t know her because she, Mary,  is too busy to make friends with neighbors.

How many of us can relate? What stops us from introducing ourselves and greeting a neighbor? Mary’s excuse in the movie was because she was too busy.

When I moved onto my street, I was amazed at the number of friendly people who stopped and said hello. They dropped off cookies and flowers and made us feel welcomed. How nice to have neighbors who actually talk to you.   What a great introduction to the South.

The practice doesn’t have to end with the neighbors on your street or in your building. You can extend it to others. I have started to talk to people in coffee shops and nurseries and other locations only to find that they know someone from my hometown or go to my church or live in my community. Just a simple “Hi, I am new to the area” has sparked stories of when people moved here and their experiences. It was amazing the number of people who then also recommended their church or service providers or other helpful tips.

It made me realize too that I had not been saying “hi” to people in my old hometown. I was not one of those residents who made small talk at the coffee shop. I was too busy, like Mary, to get to work. Too busy to make eye contact for fear someone would actually want to talk to me!  It is no wonder that many Northerners are considered standoffish.

I don’t know if it is the warmth of the days that makes a difference in the South or just a calmer way of life, but I know that people seem friendlier here and because of it, I am friendlier.  When I am shopping downtown and a tourist asks me a question, I make sure I take the extra moments to answer the questions and welcome them. Maybe it is one of the reasons people like to come back here to either visit or live — someone has stopped, looked into their eyes, and made contact with them, unlike Mary and Nancy Pong.

Lee Scott, a writer and recent retiree, shares her everyday observations about life after career.  A former commercial banker responsible for helping her clients to reach their business objectives, Lee now translates those analytical skills to her writings. She recently moved to St. Helena Island with her husband and two cocker spaniels. She enjoys boating, traveling and reading. 

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What’s with the hot spots?

By Tracie Korol

My neighbor dog, Miss S, currently has two hot spots. She was clear on Monday; by Wednesday afternoon she had a weeping, oozing wound on her right front leg and another on her flank. Her gooey messes might be pyotraumatic dermatitis, wet eczema or Staphyloccocus intermedius, but they are what we generally group under the heading of “hot spots”.

They are warm and swollen to the touch, certainly painful and often smell dreadful.  They can be triggered by bacteria, yeast, fungi, fleas, lawn-care products, irritating grooming products, anxiety, stress, boredom or as a reaction to having been recently vaccinated.  In many dogs hot spots mark the return of autumn.

Most vets will treat hot spots by shaving the area, washing with disinfectant soap or rinsing with a liquid antiseptic. They will often use astringents, hydrocortisone sprays, antibiotics and steroid injections or pills.  If the dog can’t leave the spot alone, she may be sentenced to the Cone of Shame, E-collar (the lampshade device) that prevents her from getting at the wound.  Any dog can get a hot spot, but our pets are especially prone given our humid climate.

Because hot spots tend to recur, holistic practitioners tend to look beyond the obvious symptoms to the underlying causes. Richard Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, my mentor and author of one of my favorite reference guides with the longest, most unmemorable title (“Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats”) maintains all skin problems stem from the same health problem. He maintains that skin disorders stem from: toxicity from poor-quality food, environmental pollutants or topically applied chemicals; routine unnecessary yearly vaccinations that induce immune disorders in susceptible animals; suppressed disease (conditions that have never been cured that reappear as periodic skin discharge); or psychological factors such as stress, boredom, frustration, irritability.  Miss S is morbidly obese, eats garbage kibble and is confined on the back porch 16 hours a day. I’d wager her hot spots are a trifecta of causality.

What’s the cure?  Dr. Pitcairn says it’s all in the diet. I believe him.

He recommends a short fast followed by an improved diet, absent any processed grains, soy, chemical preservatives, artificial colors, flavors or synthetic vitamins.

The short fast (a couple of days, fresh clean water always available) will encourage the body to burn up fat deposits where it holds impurities. By the time your dog returns to a clean diet, her body will have already started the healing process. But what do you do in the meantime when your dog has a great, nasty owwy?

Despite a stellar diet, my Bea would routinely sprout a hot spot on her left hip every autumn. Before she could worry it into a full-scale drama, I would shave the area, wash it gently with an anti-bacterial soap, and apply tea tree oil diluted w/a neutral carrier oil.  Often by the next day her little wound would be scabbed over leaving her to sport a fur excavation site for the next three months.  Tea tree oil worked for The Bea.  As it is a bitter, smelly oil her only reward for worrying the site was the slobbery “get this off my tongue” reaction we’ve all seen. Tea tree is a powerful essential oil, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and used by Australian WWII troops to fend off trench foot in the South Pacific Theater.  It’s also known as melaleuca oil of MLM notoriety.

Herbal treatments such as powdered goldenseal, comfrey tea or chamomile compresses will soothe and dry the wounds. A couple of plain old black tea bags soaked in hot water, squeezed almost dry and left to cool can be applied directly to the hot spot for as long as your dog will allow.  The tannins in the tea will help dry out the wound plus the cooling compress AND your personal attention will be soothing.

Holistic philosophy says that organisms function as complete units that cannot be reduced to a sum of its parts.  If your dog gets a hot spot, certainly treat the “part”, but then look beyond the immediate emergency to find the source of the problem. With hot spots, as with other health issues, if the complete unit is healthy it follows that the parts will be healthy, too.

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Maintain eye health with diabetes

By Mark S. Siegel

Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to produce or use insulin effectively to control blood sugar (glucose) levels. Although glucose is an important source of energy for the body’s cells, too much glucose in the blood for a long time can cause damage in many parts of the body, including the heart, kidneys, blood vessels and the small blood vessels in the eyes.

When the blood vessels in the eye’s retina (the light sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye) swell, leak or close off completely — or if abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina — it is called diabetic retinopathy.

People who are at greater risk of developing diabetic retinopathy are those who have diabetes or poor blood sugar control, women who are pregnant, and people with high blood pressure, high blood lipids or both. Also, people who are from certain ethnic groups, such as African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans, are more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy. In fact, a new study confirms that diabetes is a top risk factor for vision loss among Hispanics.

Something to remember: diabetes can cause vision in your eyes to change even if you do not have retinopathy. If your blood sugar levels change quickly, it can affect the shape of your eye’s lens, causing blurry vision, which goes back to normal after your blood sugar stabilizes. Therefore, it’s important not to change your glasses prescription unless your blood sugar levels are normal.

Did you know there is also a link between diabetes and cataracts? Permanent blurring of vision due to cataracts can also result from changes to the lens due to excess blood sugar. Cataract surgery may be necessary to remove lenses that are clouded by the effects of diabetes and replace them with clear intraocular lenses (IOLs) to restore clear vision.

Maintaining good control of your blood sugar helps reduce episodes of temporary blurred vision and prevent the permanent clouding of the lens that would require surgery to correct.

Mark Siegel,  MD, FAAO, Medical Director, Sea Island Ophthalmology,

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