Workplace (and Work from Home) Eye Wellness

The COVID-19 pandemic suddenly migrated behaviors and routines that we once completed in person behind a computer screen. Within weeks, children were participating in online learning, patients realized the convenience of telemedicine appointments, office meetings became Zoom meetings, and even happy hour get-togethers became virtual social events. While technology has allowed us to continue working, learning, and participating in healthy activities, it comes with eye health risks.

Recent research found that the average U.S. adult will spend the equivalent of 44 years of their life staring at digital device screens. Adults spend more than 6,200 hours a year looking at televisions, smartphones, and laptops. The usage breaks down to four and a half hours a day looking at TV, almost five hours on a computer, and over four and a half hours on a smartphone. Not surprisingly, those estimates increased during the pandemic, with survey respondents sharing that their screen time increased two hours per day just in entertainment activities.

So much screen time can lead to various eye health concerns, ranging from dry eyes, eye strain, nearsightedness, and a condition called digital eye strain (DES). Read on to familiarize yourself with the risks of DES. Then consider if you’re spending too much time reading and scrolling through your social feed and what that might mean for your eye health.

What is Digital Eye Strain (DES)?

DES, or computer vision syndrome (CVS), refers to a group of vision and eye-related issues caused by prolonged digital screen use. When we read or watch digital content on a screen for a prolonged period, it makes our eyes work harder, straining their surrounding muscles. Reading content from a screen is more demanding on the eyes than reading printed materials. Digital typography is often not as sharp and doesn’t offer as much contrast as black text on white paper. Computer screen glare and reflections can also impede readability, furthering the need to strain the eyes to scrutinize digital materials.

Other factors that can lead to DES include:

  • Poor lighting
  • Being situated too close or too far from the device
  • Poor posture
  • Uncorrected vision problems

What are the Symptoms of DES?

DES symptoms may include:

  • Eyestrain
  • Blurred vision
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Headaches
  • Dry eyes

Who is at Risk for DES?

People who spend at least two continuous hours looking at a digital screen every day are at the most significant risk for developing DES.

How to Combat DES

To help reduce your risk of experiencing DES side effects, follow the 20-20-20 rule. Take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes.

What About Blue Light?

If you spend the majority of your workday on a computer, you may have heard that you should protect your eyes from blue light. While the long-term risks of the blue light emitted from digital devices are unknown, researchers believe that excessive screen time and working too close to a device can lead to DES or possibly more severe eye damage.

The eye is not well equipped to block the blue light emitted from digital screens. As a result, the light passes through the cornea and lens, reaching the retina. Researchers believe that long-term blue light exposure could damage retinal cells and cause such vision problems as age-related macular degeneration, eye cancer, cataracts, or growths on the clear covering over the white part of the eye.

If you know that due to your job, hobbies, or habits, you spend an excessive number of hours looking at a computer screen every day, talk to your doctor. They can counsel you on lifestyle changes, the possible use of blue light glasses, and other strategies to help you protect the long-term health of your eyes.

Raising Awareness for TBI and Spring Break Safety

TBI awareness & spring break safety

After the long, cold, dark months of winter, nothing sounds better than a spring break vacation somewhere warm and tropical. Sadly, spring break parties often mix with risky behavior for far too many young people, resulting in permanent injury. A study by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) found that the average male student on spring break drinks up to 18 drinks per day. In comparison, the average female student drinks up to 10 alcoholic beverages per day. NIAAA estimates that around 1,800 college students die from alcohol-related injuries each year, the vast majority occurring during spring break, and the top cause being fatal vehicle crashes.

If your child or friend is planning for a wild spring break vacation this spring, show them how much you care by having a serious conversation about drug and alcohol use risk factors. As March is also traumatic brain injury (TBI) awareness month, such discussions are crucial to lowering the number of people who suffer from TBI due to a motor vehicle crash, fall, altercation, or other accident.

What is TBI?

Traumatic brain injury occurs when a blow to the head disrupts normal brain function. The severity of a brain injury could range from mild to severe. In the case of a mild injury, a person may temporarily lose consciousness or experience a concussion. In more severe cases, the person may suffer permanent brain damage or face a lifelong disability. In the most devastating cases, a TBI could result in death.

What are the Leading Causes of TBI?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the cause of TBI varies based on patient age:

  • Among children ages 0 to 17, 49% of TBI-related emergency department (ED) visits were caused by falls
  • Among adults ages 65 and older, 81% of TBI-related ED visits were caused by falls
  • Among all age groups, 17 percent of TBI-related ED visits involved being struck by or against an object; often, these are sports-related injuries or involve a physical altercation
  • 20% of all TBI-related hospitalizations involve motor vehicle crashes
  • 33% of all TBI-related deaths involve self-harm

Each year, around 2.8 million Americans are treated for TBI; however, healthcare providers and researchers believe that the incidence of TBIs is much higher, as not everyone receives medical care or even realizes that they have suffered a TBI, especially when it’s mild. Recently, as the media and healthcare organizations have helped to raise awareness of the long-term effects of TBI and its causes, more patients are seeking treatment if they suspect their head injury may be of serious concern. Further understanding of the habits and risks that can lead to accidental TBIs can help minimize cases each year.

The Dangerous Link Between Problematic Alcohol Use and TBIs

Studies show that between 30 and 50 percent of TBI cases occur when the patient is intoxicated. An even more significant number of intoxicated TBI cases involve motor vehicle accidents and assaults. In these cases, binge drinking—a typical behavior among spring breakers—is often the root cause of the path that leads to TBI, as those who consume more than five drinks in a sitting are more than three times as likely to suffer a trauma.

A too common scenario plays out as follows: a young person consumes far too much alcohol while partying, they get into an altercation—or worse, behind the wheel of a car—and end up with a traumatic brain injury, the lasting effects of which they may feel for the rest of their life.

Raising Awareness and Having Critical Conversations

One of the best ways to lower the number of people who suffer from TBIs each year is to raise awareness of the severity of the condition and educate young people about the risk factors that could lead to a life-altering injury or death. If your child or a loved one will be celebrating spring break and you fear they may participate in problematic alcohol use, talk to them about the risks of TBI. Help them understand that they can have fun without binge drinking. Encourage them to limit their alcohol consumption, alternate alcoholic drinks with water, always have a designated driver and know to seek medical care if a fall, fight, or recreation-related injury results in a blow to the head. Most importantly, implore your loved one never to drink and drive.

If you believe someone in your life needs help with alcohol addiction, talk to your Nova Health care provider, or visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Their free, confidential national helpline is available 24/7 at 1.800.662.HELP.

Why You Need to Commit to a Consistent Sleep Schedule

commit to a consistent sleep schedule

Sleep. It’s the one thing that too many Americans say they just can’t get enough of. Seventy percent of U.S. adults report that they fail to get enough sleep at least one day per month, and 11 percent say that they fail to get enough sleep nightly. Why is it so challenging for so many to obtain the ideal amount of sleep? What’s hindering our peaceful dozing, and what should you do if you are among those craving more restful nights? The advice that follows aims to help those craving more ZZZs achieve more consistent, peaceful slumber.

How Much Sleep Does the Average Person Need?

The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep per night; however, the average person only gets 6.8 hours of sleep at night, leaving them in a rest and recovery shortfall.

What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

Lacking a few hours of sleep each month may not seem problematic, especially if you generally feel productive on most days; however, your body could be suffering in ways that could exacerbate into something more severe if you don’t make adjustments to your sleep schedule.

The short-term effects of sleep deprivation (which includes missing as few as 1.5 hours of sleep) can consist of:

  • Lack of mental sharpness
  • Your ability to think, recall, and process information
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Mood changes that can put stress on your interpersonal relationships and increase your likelihood of arguing with those around you
  • Feeling less inclined to participate in daily activities or hobbies
  • Decreased desire or ability for proper physical fitness

In the most severe cases, drowsy driving accounts for thousands of vehicle crashes, injuries, and fatalities annually.

Why Aren’t You Getting Enough Sleep?

There are several reasons why Americans aren’t getting the necessary number of hours of sleep each night, including:

  • Overuse of electronic devices, particularly in the time before bed. Such devices include smartphones, laptops, tablets, and television. When you work or consume digital entertainment at night, the artificial lighting from your device can trick your internal clock and mind into thinking it’s processing daylight, keeping you awake and interfering with your body’s ability to wind down naturally.
  • Later bedtimes, but the same awake times. The reasons that people stay awake late often relate to their use of electronic devices and consumption of entertainment. Still, when we push our bodies to stay awake for “just one more episode,” all we’re doing is compacting the amount of time our bodies have to rest and recover before the alarm goes off at 6 a.m.
  • Overcommitted Schedules. For busy parents, students committed to extracurricular activities, and employees who work beyond the average eight-hour workday, the scheduling of every hour leads to short evenings at home in which to finish chores, participate in some self-care, and prepare to do it all again the next day. As a result, the days are long, and the nights are too short.
  • An Overreliance Upon Caffeine. Many Americans simply do not realize that they aren’t getting enough sleep. They have grown so accustomed to running on caffeine throughout the day in the form of a venti latté, a half-liter of soda or energy drink that they don’t realize they are suppressing messages from their body that it needs more regular and consistent sleep each night.

When to Ask for Help

If you often find yourself struggling to concentrate at work and have difficulty getting through the day without caffeine, but don’t know how to improve your relationship with your sleep schedule, talk to your doctor. They can help you understand the lifestyle factors impacting your sleep schedule and recommend a plan to help you overcome your challenges and start drifting off into peaceful sleep night-after-night.

Four Reasons to Talk to Your PCP About Your Nutrition at Your Next Physical

talk to your pcp about nutrition

When you hear the word “nutrition,” do you immediately think about dieting (and then cringe?) The word diet is too often associated with here-today-gone-tomorrow fads that promise unrealistic results and sometimes exclude whole food groups vital for your health. Proper nutrition, however, is a way of life. It encompasses living a lifestyle where you have a healthy relationship with food, eating only in moderation those foods that don’t support physical and emotional wellness, and choosing heart-healthy, whole, natural staples.

Whether you worry that you need to gain weight, lose weight, or simply choose more natural, unprocessed, and less mass-produced foods, an understanding of proper nutrition and what it can do for your health, is vital. If you’d like to learn more and receive custom recommendations for nutrition choices you can start making today, look no further than your primary care physician (PCP). To motivate you to talk about fruits, veggies,  whole grains, and lean proteins at your next annual physical, here are four reasons to speak with your PCP about nutrition.

1. Your PCP Can Help You Set Reasonable Goals

Improving your approach to nutrition can feel overwhelming. Where do you start, what should you change, and do you really have to give up your daily grande mochaccino? Not only is it challenging to decide where to begin, but people who don’t see immediate results when they make dietary and lifestyle changes are also easily tempted to revert to their former ways. Your doctor can help you set reasonable goals and understand how long it will take you to see changes, and help you feel confident about sticking to your plan.

2. Your PCP Can Determine if You Aren’t Getting Proper Nutrition

If weight isn’t a concern, but energy, skin and hair issues, and digestion are, your symptoms may stem from an overall lack of proper nutrition. If you share your concerns with your PCP, they can look for signs of improper nutrition that might not be apparent to you, such as unusual fatigue, brittle hair, skin rashes, a pale tongue, and cracks at the corners of the mouth. If there is a more concerning underlying health condition at play, your PCP can identify the cause and help you get the care and treatment you need to feel better.

3. Diet is the Biggest Risk Factor for Dying of Heart Disease and Other Illnesses

Diet-related illnesses account for 11 million deaths around the world annually. Every individual is accountable for their health. At your annual physical, your PCP will check your vital health statistics, conduct a depression screening, talk to you about your family health history, and answer any of your questions or concerns. If they don’t ask you specifically about nutrition, feel empowered to broach the subject and take control of your health. If you’re unsure how to begin the discussion, know that doctors always welcome talking to patients about their diet. Simply say, “I’d like to ensure I’m getting proper nutrition.” Your PCP will help guide the conversation from there.

4. Your PCP Will Be Your Greatest Health Advocate

With your PCP by your side and cheering you on as you aim to meet your nutrition goals, you’ll benefit from the ongoing support and guidance of a confident ally in your quest for a long and healthy life. With every milestone you reach—lowering your cholesterol, improving your sleep, reaching a weight goal—your PCP will be there to celebrate with you and help you continue to adjust your nutrition plan for ongoing success.

If you don’t already have a PCP, many of our compassionate caregivers at Nova Health are accepting new patients. Make an in-clinic or telemedicine appointment today. Find a location near you or search our provider directory.

Nova Health Welcomes Family Medicine Practitioner Dana Harbuck APRN, MSN, NP-C

Dana Harbuck APRN, NP-C

Eugene, OR – March 05, 2021 – Nova Health, a provider of high-quality, convenient primary and urgent care services in the Western United States, is pleased to announce the addition of Dana Harbuck APRN, MSN, NP-C to its team of family medicine practitioners. Harbuck will begin accepting patients on April 26th at Nova Health’s North Bend clinic, located at 1226 Virginia Ave, North Bend OR 97459. With the addition of Harbuck, Nova Health will begin offering primary health care services at the North Bend clinic.

Harbuck brings to Nova Health nearly thirty years of healthcare experience and a commitment to providing the highest patient service level. She has an intimate knowledge of clinical and hospital settings and the systems that make them successful. Harbuck’s areas of expertise include physical therapy, intensive care, orthopedics, and neuroscience. She is particularly focused on preventive medicine.

“What I love most about practicing medicine is becoming invested in my patients and their health,” said Harbuck. “I am thrilled to join the Nova Health team and bring everything I’ve learned over the past three decades to Nova Health’s patients. Now, more than ever, patients need the trust and support of a healthcare provider that they know and trust. I am committed to bringing my patients and their families my total commitment to their wellbeing.”

Dr. Lyle Torguson, Nova Health Medical Director of Primary Care Services, said Harbuck’s lifelong commitment to healthcare and her calm and compassionate demeanor make her an asset to Nova Health.

“Dana is an outstanding medical professional,” said Dr. Torguson. “Her expertise in physical therapy, in particular, makes her uniquely able to add value to our patients facing issues related to chronic pain. We are so glad to add her to our compassionate care team and know that her future patients will welcome her into their extended care team with gratitude.”

Nova Health Opens New Clinic in Lebanon, Oregon

Nova Health opens clinic in Lebanon

Eugene, OR March 1, 2021 – Nova Health, a provider of high-quality, convenient primary and urgent care services in the Western United States, opened a new urgent and primary care clinic on the first of March in Lebanon, Oregon. The clinic is located at 3400 Cooperative Way and accepts same-day urgent care appointments (both walk-in and scheduled online) and scheduled primary care visits with its expanding team of care providers. 

According to Nova Health Chief Executive Officer Jim Ashby, Nova Health’s Lebanon expansion is the next step in its long-term strategy to ensure quality, convenient care to patients and their families in the Western United States. 

Our new Lebanon clinic is situated squarely in our primary footprint of Northwestern Oregon,” said Ashby. “We have experienced significant patient growth and demand in this region. We want to ensure that our patients feel confident that they can access our team of caregivers whenever they need an urgent care exam and that they have nearby access to our primary care providers for ongoing treatments. 

As of this Spring, Nova Health will maintain 25 urgent care, primary care locations in OregonMontana and Washington. It also offers telemedicine appointments via their website 

Our current growth plan ensures balanced provider staffing, strategic location expansion, and of course, a commitment to only the highest quality patient experiences from scheduling through follow-up care,” said Ashby. As we grow our footprint in Northwestern Oregon, we do so with a commitment to keep our patients at the core of our decision-making process and everything that we do. 

What is Endometriosis?

endometriosis awareness

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. Here at Nova Health, we’re committed to raising awareness and understanding about this painful condition that affects 176 million reproductive-age women and connecting them to resources and health specialists who can provide treatment and hope. For too long, women’s reproductive health issues have not been discussed openly. We want to reassure our patients and all women in our communities that we are here as advocates and a resource for you and your family. If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant—or experiencing fertility challenges—familiarize yourself with the causes and symptoms of endometriosis and become part of the growing national dialogue around women’s reproductive health.

What is Endometriosis?

With endometriosis, tissue similar to the endometrium—the tissue that lines the uterus—grows in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the pelvic lining. In rare cases, it may spread beyond the pelvic organs. Endometriosis is typically painful, as the endometrial-like tissue thickens, breaks down, and bleeds every menstrual cycle, becoming trapped inside the body. When endometriosis occurs in the ovaries, it can cause cysts, which can irritate the surrounding tissue, developing scars and abnormal fibrous tissue bands that cause organs and pelvic tissue to stick together. In addition to the physical pain of endometriosis, it often causes fertility complications.

What are the Symptoms of Endometriosis?

Symptoms of endometriosis may include:

  • Pelvic pain that worsens during ovulation and menstruation
  • Infertility
  • Painful bowel movements or urination
  • Painful intercourse

Treatment Options for Endometriosis

Women who experience endometriosis do not need to suffer in silence. After a diagnosis, your doctor may recommend one or several of the following treatment options:

  • Pain medication – May include an over-the-counter pain reliever to ease menstrual cramps
  • Hormone therapy – In combination with pain relievers for women not trying to become pregnant
  • Progestin Therapy – May include an intrauterine device with levonorgestrel, a contraceptive implant, contraceptive injection, or a progestin pill
  • Hormonal contraceptives – Including birth control pills, vaginal rings, or patches
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GN-RH) agonists and antagonists – Drugs that blog the body’s production of ovarian-stimulating hormones
  • Aromatase inhibitors – Medicines that reduce estrogen levels
  • Fertility treatment – To help women who are having difficulties getting pregnant
  • Conservative surgery – To remove the endometrial tissues without removing the reproductive organs
  • Hysterectomy and oophorectomy – Surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries—the most invasive treatment option

When to Talk to Your Doctor

If you are suffering from painful periods and intercourse and are struggling to conceive, talk to your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment for women of child-bearing years can help you overcome the physical impact of endometriosis so that you can conceive and carry a healthy baby.

Join in the Conversation During Endometriosis Awareness Month

No matter your gender or whether you are a parent or trying to become pregnant, everyone can be an ally in the conversation around endometriosis and help raise awareness this month. For more information or support, visit the Endometriosis Research Center.

Nova Health Partners with Physicians Immediate Care & Medical Centers

Expands Service Capabilities to South Eastern Washington 

Eugene, OR – March 1, 2021 – Nova Health, a provider of high-quality, convenient primary and urgent care services in the Western United States, has announced that it has acquired Physicians Immediate Care & Medical Centers, a healthcare organization offering urgent care, primary care, occupational medicine, women’s health, and laboratory services in Richland, Washington.

According to Nova Health Chief Executive Officer Jim Ashby, thacquisition expands Nova’s growing footprint for urgent and primary care services into its fifth state of operations, consistent with its strategy to reach more markets in the Western United States. 

The partnership with Physicians Immediate Care & Medical Centers (PICMCrepresents the merging of two harmonious entities,” said Ashby. “We are both committed to offering the highest quality patient care and serving the Pacific Northwest’s underserved communities. Together, we will be even stronger thanks to our combined resources and our shared vision of keeping people out of the hospital. We expect that the combined company will be even stronger, enhancing access and quality care for patient in the Tri-Cities area.”  

Joining the Nova Health family brings our team a lot of excitement,” said Dr. Douglas Crawford, owner  of Physicians Immediate Care and Medical Centers. “Nova Health has demonstrated its dedication to quality healthcare and optimized operations, their reputation as a powerful healthcare network is well-earned.  We want to assure patients of PICMC that they will continue to see the same staff and receive the same great carewhile enjoying the benefits of a large, interconnected healthcare organization.”