The darker days of winter can make reading or computer use hard on the eyes. Some tips for reducing eyestrain and fatigue:

  • Work and read in well-lit rooms
  • Position your computer monitor at, or just below, eye level, and place it a little farther away than when reading a book
  • Use anti-reflective coatings on computer screens and glasses
  • Practice the 20-20-20 rule: Take a break every 20 minutes by looking 20 feet away for 20 seconds

The leading causes of vision loss, in order: cataracts; uncorrected myopia (nearsightedness), farsightedness or astigmatism; glaucoma; and age-related macular degeneration, which impairs the central field of vision.

End-of-year review is a good policy

As 2012 winds down, it’s a good time to review your health insurance. Some things to consider:

Did you meet your deductible?

If your deductible resets every Jan. 1 and you’ve met it for 2012, then late-year medical care could cost you less out-of-pocket.

Does your deductible roll over?

Some insurers let you apply money you spend toward your deductible in the final months of the year toward meeting your deductible next year. Ask about it.

Did you use your FSA funds?

If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) through your employer, check with HR to see if you have unspent funds. If so, use them. They usually don’t roll over to the new year.

Are there coverage changes?

Watch the mail. Many insurers choose the start of the new year to announce changes to coverage or premiums.

How to wash your hands

Hand-washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of illness. For the best results, wet your hands with clean, running water, and then apply soap. Rub your hands together to make lather; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails. Do this for 20 seconds. Rinse your hands completely, and then dry with a clean towel or air dryer.

Ear infections

are one of the most common reasons parents bring their children to the doctor.

Acute infections can lead to hearing loss in children or adults, so know the symptoms. If you or a loved one experiences ear pain with a feeling of fullness in the ear, vomiting, partial hearing loss or fluid drainage from the ear, see your health care provider right away.