Wednesday, 28 August 2013 18:57

Get a Better Night’s Sleep Tonight

Do you often find yourself lying in bed doing everything but sleeping? Is the digital glow of the alarm clock mocking you as you try to get the rest you need to be productive? When these bouts of sleeplessness become severe enough that they result in a disruption of your daytime activities, you may be suffering from insomnia. If so, then you are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-third of Americans suffer from insufficient sleep or some kind of sleep disorder.

Get the Test

If you're so tired that you're snapping at your family members and dozing at your desk, you may want to consider seeking medical help to get to the root of the problem. Select your doctor based on what you know about your sleep issues—do you snore? An ear, nose, and throat specialist might be your best bet, since you may be having trouble with the physical mechanics of your sleep. "One major sleep issue, obstructive sleep apnea, is treated by ENT doctors as it involves the tongue, soft palette and nasal airway," explains Dr. Jeffrey M. Gallups, a double board certified physician specializing in nasal and sinus disorders. "ENT is the only specialty that can lessen or cure obstructive apnea through surgery. Obstructive apnea can also make reflux worse for those who suffer with it." If you aren't sure what the issue is, a general sleep specialist is a good place to start.

Your doctor will likely begin by having you fill out a questionnaire about your sleep habits and lifestyle. Based on your answers, he or she may order a sleep study. Dr. Parina Shah, the medical director for FusionHealth, says these tests are performed either in a sleep lab or at the patient's home. Your sleep patterns will be monitored, and data on the amount of time spent asleep and awake will be collected. Whether at home or in the lab, a sleep study can accurately determine whether or not someone is suffering from insomnia or sleep apnea.

Once a diagnosis is reached, there are plenty of techniques you can try at home to help alleviate the symptoms. But before you try to make yourself sleepy with a glass of your favorite wine, keep reading. You may be surprised by what saves or sabotages your snooze.

Practical Steps

First, turn off the screens. At least an hour before you want to fall asleep, Dr. Shah says to turn off TVs, laptops, and other electronic devices because "the bright light from them fools the brain into thinking that it's daytime, and it makes it harder for you to fall asleep." So, though it may be tough to part with your beloved e-reader or iPad, go old school and snuggle up with a regular book, magazine, or some other unplugged activity so your brain and body can realize it's nighttime.

Another important factor is routine, routine, routine. "Get up at the same time each day seven days a week, avoid daytime naps, and make sure the bedroom is used only for sleep—sexual intercourse excepted," says Dr. Faisal M. Bhutta, a board-certified sleep and lung disorder specialist at North Fulton Hospital. And, though you may be tempted to add an adult beverage to your bedtime routine, don't. Dr. Shah says alcohol can actually make your sleep more fitful, so stick with some warm (decaf) tea.

If all else fails, don't just lie there counting down the hours until your alarm. If you're still awake after 20 or 25 minutes in bed, Dr. Shah recommends getting up and leaving the bedroom for another dark area until you're sleepy again.

Treatments & New Services

Desperate to reach dreamland, you may find yourself trying everything from traditional medicine to alternative remedies such as acupuncture, herbal remedies or meditation. Dr. Bhutta says the evidence suggesting the success for these is sparse, but adds, "One supplement I do often recommend is melatonin. It is available over the counter in the U.S. and can be quite effective for certain types of insomnia."

If your insomnia is due to sleep apnea, though, board-certified sleep disorder specialist Dr. Ron Alvarez says the effective treatments are usually more medically geared than a simple supplement. "CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, works for virtually anyone suffering from sleep apnea," he says. "You have a mask and are hooked up to a machine that forces air through your throat and opens the airway so you don't stop breathing."

Dr. Alvarez explains that one of the newer treatments involves radio frequency tongue abrasion. The technology has been in place for about 10 years but in the past year or two has become the most popular method of treating blockages that cause apnea. "A probe is placed in the patient's mouth and a scar is created on the tongue, shrinking it," Dr. Alvarez says. "We used to have procedures where we removed part of the patient's palate, but this is less invasive."

He notes that at-home treatments for apnea are successful as well, one of which he calls positional therapy. "A lot of times sleep apnea symptoms are worse when you sleep on your back," he says. "By sleeping on your side or your belly, you can keep the airway clearer." If you constantly find yourself waking up on your back, try this trick: Sew a tennis ball into the back of a T-shirt and wear it to bed. That way, you'll be uncomfortable when you roll onto your back and will stay on your side.

My Sanctuary

In a new poll from 2012, the National Sleep Foundation Bedroom Poll asked Americans about key elements of their bedrooms – the results they found were pretty interesting. When asked what was important for their sleep, about nine out of 10 (93 percent) rated having a comfortable mattress and pillows (91 percent) as important to getting a good night's sleep, followed closely by comfortable sheets (86 percent). It may sound simple, but making sure your mattress is supportive and comfortable can make a big difference. Moreover, use sheets and pillows that are free of allergens that may be affecting your sleep.

At the end of the day, there are several treatments available that can improve your sleep and your overall functioning. You don't need to walk around in a fog because of lack of sleep. If you follow these lifestyle tips, get a diagnosis, and discuss a treatment plan with your doctor, you'll be well rested in no time. Read on for real stories of troubled sleepers.


Editorial Resources
Dr. Ron Alvarez - Ear, Nose & Throat Institute,
Dr. Faisal M. Bhutta - North Fulton Hospital,
Dr. Jeffrey M. Gallups - Ear, Nose & Throat Institute,
Dr. Parina Shah - Fusion Health,


Sleepless in Atlanta
Locals share their trials and tribulations of tossing and turning

The search for a good night's sleep may seem ever-elusive, but take heart that there are things you can do to help improve your rest. These local Atlantans did! Some have improved, while others are still looking for something that works for them.



Bert Weiss
Radio personality on Q100

Bert Weiss' issue with poor sleep began about 10 years ago around the time his first son was born. He admits he tried almost everything to help himself catch more zzz's--herbal remedies, juices, soft music, magnets, bio-rhythms, Ambien, and he finally settled on the sleep aid Lunesta.

"Doctors tell me because of my hours that my circadian rhythms are off," he explains. (A circadian rhythm is defined as a roughly 24 hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings. According to the National Sleep Foundation, our internal circadian biological clocks regulate the timing of periods of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day.) "They suggest I keep the same schedule on the weekend to help." Unfortunately, this remedy doesn't work for him. "I just can't go to bed at 10 p.m. and wake up at 4 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. I have to have some kind of social life."

Weiss has been to three different sleep specialists, and so far the only thing that has worked has been Lunesta.

Weiss goes on to explain "If I'm off the Lunesta then I'm tired, irritable, and can't concentrate." Weiss attempted to get off the drug cold turkey, but he ended up sick. His general practitioner told him to go back on Lunesta so he could get enough rest for his body to heal properly. Although he has not found a permanent remedy yet, he is still hopeful.



Gene Stewart
Business development consultant

When Gene Stewart noticed he was repeatedly waking up several times during the night and unable to fall back asleep, he tried taking natural supplements like melatonin, but they didn't really work as he had hoped.

"I knew that lack of sleep would eventually lead to other more serious issues, so I had to find out what was causing my sleeplessness," he says. Stewart decided to see Dr. Mark Yanta, who had him complete a sleep study at North Fulton Regional Hospital. The diagnosis was a moderate case of sleep apnea. Stewart was put on a sleep apnea machine that helps his breathing during the night, keeping passageways open for better breathing. "I'm still in a transition mode, but the CPAP machine seems to be making rest better," he says. "It takes a while to get used to wearing a mask at night, but I'm definitely feeling better the next day."

Stewart admits he still gets up at least once per night, but it is now a lot easier to fall back asleep. "I'm not sleeping a full eight hours and probably never will, but the treatments Dr. Yanta prescribed have definitely made a positive impact. I have more energy, which leads to me being more active."



Ana Kewes
FDA consumer safety officer

Five years ago, Ana Kewes was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. The tumor was estrogen receptive, so the chemo she received not only targeted the cancer cells, but also wiped out the estrogen in her system. The treatment put her body into a chemically induced menopause, which led to night sweats, frequent hot flashes, and depression, all of which resulted in insomnia.

The oncologist she was seeing put her on sleeping and antidepressant medication to try to help. Her doctor also prescribed exercise, but she was too weak to do it very much. On top of that, Kewes was snoring. She went to see Dr. Ronald J. Alvarez, who diagnosed her with sleep apnea. "I figured I'm getting little sleep as it is, and on top of that with sleep apnea, it's no wonder why I was tired all the time," she says.

She was put on a CPAP machine and instructed to use it every night. "It's been a challenge getting used to it, but I'm trying. My goal is to be off the sleeping meds soon," she admits. "I might need to seek further medical care for it, but one step at a time. I still have sleepless nights. But when I can't sleep I get up and read or do a puzzle. Now when I do sleep, at least I don't quit breathing."



10 Reasons for Sleep Deprivation

asthmaAGE – As you get older, you spend more time in lighter stages of sleep than in deep sleep and REM sleep, making you feel more tired in the morning.

ASTHMA – If you're asthmatic, you may be waking yourself up with nighttime coughs and wheezes.

DEPRESSION – Depression sometimes manifests as difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.

DREAMS – Intense, vivid dreams or nightmares may be stressful enough to wake you up and keep you awake.

GERD – Gastroesophageal reflux disease, more commonly known as acid reflux, might cause you to wake up because of nighttime heartburn.

MENOPAUSE – Because of hormonal changes, as many as 61percent of postmenopausal women report insomnia symptoms.

pregnantPREGNANCY – Sleep disruption during pregnancy isn't only due to physical discomfort. Hormonal changes have an inhibitory effect on muscles and may cause snoring and sleep apnea.

RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME – This is characterized by uncomfortable leg sensations that are often relieved by movement, making it difficult to lie still in bed.

WEIGHT – Overweight or obese people are at an increased risk for sleep apnea, which can disrupt sleep several times per night.

WORK – If you work shifts rather than a nine to five desk job, your varied schedule can affect your circadian rhythms, causing daytime sleepiness and difficulty falling asleep when you need to.


Information courtesy of The National Sleep Foundation,

For Marianne Baker, fitness and philanthropy go hand in hand. As a certified exercise leader (ACSM), personal trainer, choreographer and the director of group exercise for the Concourse Athletic Club, she is passionate about helping people achieve their fitness goals. She also uses her position to raise awareness for charity organizations that are close to her heart such as Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure, and Toys For Tots with the U.S. Marines. "I really enjoy working with groups that help so many people in so many ways," she says. Beyond teaching Zumba, QiFORZE, TurboKick and other fitness classes, her private company, GroupEx Divas, certifies other wellness professionals all across the U.S. "I want to reach as many people as I can with the benefit of being dedicated to a fitness lifestyle," she says. And it seems she is well on her way to doing just that.

What is your favorite thing about leading a fitness class?

My favorite class is QiFORZE. It is a motivating muscular strength and endurance class that targets every muscle with unique movement patterns. QiFORZE has the fun and sizzle of a cardio class, but it is strength training and suitable for most people of all age groups. All the music is original and composed by multi Grammy award-winning artist Kike Santander. The class has amazing one-of-a- kind movement patterns and original, awesome music. It is also fun, challenging and body changing!

How do you balance home life and work?

When I am at work I focus on key priorities for my job and then have the exact same kind of focus on the personal priorities at home. I give my home life my undivided attention.

Do you have any new projects coming up?

I am developing choreography for QiGNITION (funded by Carlos Slim, ranked by Forbes as the richest man in the world) and the DVDs will launch on television in Central and South America in Q3, then in the U.S. market in Q1, 2014. We will develop and launch new content every quarter.

Best achievement

Becoming a Kilgore College Rangerette and Lieutenant in 1977 through 1979. This is a famous Texas-based college dance line, and it has set the stage for the accomplishments in my adult career.

Best surefire mood booster

Great dinner with friends on our patio.

Best place to vacation

Hilton Head Island.

Best guilty pleasure

Anything chocolate!

Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

Working almost exclusively on certifying new instructors and developing choreography for TV and web-based exercise programs. The management team at the Concourse Athletic Club has been very supportive and helpful in all my professional and personal endeavors. I also have the privilege of working with exercise professionals at the absolute top of their profession.

Best advice you'd give your 20-something self about staying healthy

To set common-sense health and fitness goals, then follow a consistent program to meet those goals.

The Administration's official reason for postponing the "Play or Pay" penalties for Large Employers until 2015 is to allow employers more time to prepare for reporting requirements. However, you can't rest on your laurels until then. Whether you are a large (50+) or small (under 50) employer in Georgia, are you prepared for your responsibilities in 2014? This is a checklist with some highlights:

  • Small Employers Only– The Exchange (SHOP) for small employers has been postponed for government run exchanges (Georgia). However, employers can purchase a policy, but employees lose individual plan choices until 2015.

  • Small Employers Only - Maximum deductibles of $2,000 individual and $4,000 family. Maximum Out of pocket limits including deductibles and coinsurance are $6,350 individual and $12,700 family (like HSA limits).

  • Small Employers Only - Small Business Health Care Tax Credit (2010-2013).

  • Waiting period for benefit eligibility – no more than 90 days - (NOT 1st of month following 90 days)

  • If you are partially self funded OR have an HRA you must file and pay the new tax assessment due July 31, 2013.

  • Provide the model notice that contains information about the new Exchange / Marketplace to all employees by October 1st (includes providing to part time employees).

  • Provide Summary of Benefits and Coverage – there are modifications – don't use old ones.

  • Everyone can purchase coverage through the Exchange. You won't be able to use employer money, and you may not be eligible for subsidies, but the Exchange is open to all US Citizens.

  • All Employers subject to COBRA – new model notices have been released and must be used.

play-or-payCall or email me today for a complimentary and confidential review.


Corporate Insurance Advisors, Inc.
400 Northpointe Pkwy Ste. 600 | Atlanta GA


Corporate Insurance Advisors, Inc. is a proud affiliate of Intrepid, Inc. Agency system.

Thursday, 25 July 2013 20:01

The 4-1-1 on Essential Tremor

Tremor is a common condition and leads many people to seek neurological evaluation. While some tremors are due to conditions that can become debilitating or dangerous, many patients have a benign condition known as an essential tremor. In most cases, this is a very treatable disease.

What is an essential tremor?

Essential tremor is the most common movement disorder. It consists of an involuntary shaking usually in the hands, but can also involve the legs, head, or other parts of the body. The cause of essential tremor is unknown, but it does tend to run in families.

Is an essential tremor harmful?

Essential tremor can be very bothersome, interfering with the patient's life and also increase the concern that he or she might have a serious disease. While patients with essential tremor do have an increased risk of developing Parkinson's Disease in the future, this risk is still quite low overall; in the majority of cases these patients do not progress to serious illness or disease.

What should I do if I have a tremor?

See a neurologist who has been trained in the assessment of tremor and other movement disorders. By performing a comprehensive history and physical examination, a neurologist can clarify the nature of your tremor and determine if it is a benign essential tremor or if it may represent a more serious condition. In some cases, additional testing such as blood tests, brain MRI, or PET scans can help clarify the diagnosis.

essential-tremorIt there a cure for essential tremor?

There is not a cure for essential tremor, but there are many oral medications that can dramatically reduce the symptoms. These medications can be used daily or on an as-needed basis and are well tolerated by most patients. In those few patients with severe disease who do not respond to oral therapy, more advanced treatments such as Botox and deep brain stimulation have been shown to be effective.

Calli Cook, MSN, FNP-C
Midtown Neurology P.C.

(404) 653-0039

Calli Cook, MSN, FNP-C, is a Nurse Practitioner at Midtown Neurology. She received her Masters of Science in Nursing from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Thursday, 25 July 2013 19:36

Health Insurance Exchanges 101

For years, savvy online shoppers have turned to web sites that allow you to comparison shop for the best price on airfares or hotel rooms. You mark the box next to your must-haves—a non-stop flight or 4-star accommodations—and see how the competition stacks up.

While the process is sure to be much more complex, starting October 1, 2013 and continuing through March 31, 2014, millions of Georgians should be able to click their way to health coverage on, the federally-run online Health Insurance Marketplace or, as it is often called, health insurance "exchanges." Small business owners with fewer than 50 full-time employees will have an exchange of their own, the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), to find plans for their employees.

What are health insurance exchanges?
The exchanges are a central part of health care reform. Under the Affordable Care Act, all U.S. citizens and people who are legal residents will be eligible for some form of coverage and cannot be turned down because of a medical condition.

The exchanges are just a new avenue to health coverage—employers and individuals can still purchase plans directly from insurance companies or through brokers. In fact, the 169 million Americans covered under employer-funded insurance plans will have little reason to peruse the exchanges' offerings or do anything at all to keep their current health plans.

However, if you are uninsured or purchase your own health coverage, shopping on the exchanges could have an advantage—federal subsidies. will require users to fill out an application to determine eligibility for financial assistance, which can reduce the out-of-pocket cost of health plans and medical expenses. The federal subsidies are only available to those who purchase health plans through

Small business owners could also see savings by purchasing coverage through the SHOP marketplace, which is designed to give them similar power to large businesses when it comes to getting better choices and lower prices for health insurance. Small businesses with 24 or fewer full-time employees may qualify for a tax credit to offset the cost of providing coverage, if they purchase health plans through SHOP.

health-insuranceWhat will the health insurance exchanges look like?
We're beginning to get a clearer picture of what the exchanges will look like. All health plans sold on the exchanges will be broken into four "metal tiers": bronze, silver, gold and platinum. The purpose of the tiers is to make it easier for consumers to understand the cost and value of benefits. These four categories offer different levels of copayments, coinsurance and deductibles.

Every health plan sold on must provide what the federal government has identified as "essential health benefits" and meet new standards related to quality and cost-sharing. So, the offerings in each metal tier will look very similar online, with cost being the most obvious differentiator. But to get the best value, shoppers have to do some research. will provide limited information about each health plan on the site, but the onus is on the buyer to determine what's offered beyond the basic requirements. If you are considering a new insurer, find out how its plans compare to the competition. Each year, the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA) and J.D. Power and Associates rank health plans based on a number of factors, ranging from quality of care to customer satisfaction.

What if I need help navigating the health insurance exchanges?
If the thought of obtaining insurance through the exchanges is overwhelming, "navigators" and "assisters" will be available to guide shoppers through the online marketplaces. The navigators will have expertise in eligibility and enrollment options. They cannot be affiliated with insurance companies and are required under law to provide impartial and accurate information. Assisters can provide in-person help and actually enroll you in a health plan.

With coverage effective January 1, 2014 for health plans purchased through the new health insurance exchanges, insurers and health care providers alike are preparing for unprecedented change. Every business and individual will feel the impact of health care reform differently. Now is the time to get educated on the choices ahead.

Kerry W. Kohnen
Kaiser Permanente of Georgia

(404) 364-7000

Nine Piedmont Center,
3495 Piedmont Road NE,
Atlanta, GA 30305

Kerry W. Kohnen is president of Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, a health care organization serving 240,000 members through 29 medical centers across metro Atlanta and Athens.

Protecting Your Vision and Overall Eye Health

by Taylor Arnold

eye-1It can be easy to overlook routine eye care, especially if you are already seeing clearly. But regardless of the current state of your vision, it is important to be aware of common vision problems as we age. From difficulty reading fine print to more serious disorders like macular degeneration and glaucoma, knowing what's normal (and what's not) can help you maintain strong eye health.

How Your Eyes Change Over Time
"Eyes develop fastest in the first decade of life," explains Dr. Takeia Locke of Family Eye Care Center. "This is when it is most important to begin good habits for prevention of vision problems later on." During these years, she suggests proper UV protection, good reading posture, a diet rich in zinc, vitamin A and lutein, and avoiding prolonged time in front of a computer.

"Slower changes occur up through age 40, so maintenance is key during these decades," she says. "During the 50s and 60s, the lens begins to lose its focusing ability for reading, therefore, most people by age 50 will be diagnosed with presbyopia." Hormonal changes and systemic diseases may impact your eye health as well, causing dry eye, early cataracts, macular degeneration and many other vascular changes.

"In the 50s and 60s, the lens becomes hazy, or cataract," says Dr. Niraj Desai, a cataract, cornea and refractive surgeon at Milan Eye Center. "With the eye itself, properties change, so even if you don't have cataracts, it can still be more difficult to drive at night. The retina can also change over time and degenerate." During the golden years, most vision-threatening conditions do not have early symptoms, so by this point annual eye exams are crucial.

A Glimpse Into Your Family History
Many vision diseases are genetically linked, so knowing your family history will guide your care. Personal health history such as smoking and high cholesterol impact the eyes as well.

"Vascular disorders like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol really affect the eyes," Dr. Desai says. "In the back of eye, you can have swelling of the retina, which steals your vision very quickly. That's why it's important to have routine exams of the retina, because diabetic eye disease can happen even if diabetes is well controlled."

A family history of diseases like keratoconus can predispose you as well, even though there may be varying degrees of severity among affected family members. "Diseases of the retina, such as macular dystrophies and retinitis pigmentosa, are most often hereditary in nature," explains Dr. Richard Pare of North Fulton Eye Center. "Even some forms of retinal detachment and optic nerve disorders such as glaucoma have a strong hereditary propensity."

In cases where these genetic defects are already known, a patient's risk for disease can be determined with genetic testing. "In any case, an individual with a family history of known eye disease or unexplained blindness would be well advised to have regular, complete eye examinations including a dilated exam of the back of the eye," Dr. Pare says. "Healthy adults should obtain a comprehensive baseline eye examination by age 40. Those with family history of eye disease should begin comprehensive screening exams in their twenties. With early detection, many hereditary eye diseases can be prevented or successfully treated."

Looking Out For Your Eyes Today
"The main environmental factor that affects our ocular health is sun exposure," Dr. Pare says. "Heavy or sustained exposure to ultraviolet light can accelerate formation of cataracts and possibly macular degeneration."

Wearing sunglasses is one of the easiest ways to protect your eyes. "You wear sunscreen for skin, and it's the same principle for the eyes," Dr. Desai says. "Exposure to UV radiation can cause pterygium or pinguecula, which is sunlight-related damage to the white part of the eye."

A colorful diet can do wonders for maintaining your eye health too. "Eat a diet heavy in greens, and go for more pigmented fruits and vegetables, as these can slow down premature aging of eyes," Dr. Desai says.

The Latest Treatment Options
Beyond Lasik, a new surgical option for restoring vision is a clear lens exchange. "The natural lens of the eye is removed before it forms a cataract, and an implant is placed into the eye that allows the patient to see both near and far," Dr. Desai explains. "Lasik only corrects distance – the near vision isn't corrected, so people still have to wear glasses to see up close. With a lens exchange, the artificial lens gives people the ability to see far and near."

Traditionally cataract surgery has been done manually, but today more practices are turning to the laser. "We are the second practice in the U.S. to employ the femtosecond laser to do cataract surgery. ," Dr. Desai says. "With laser, there is more precision, so it is safer. Implants are becoming extremely sophisticated and complex, and they work best when done in an exact fashion." Laser is also cutting down the recovery time from cataract surgery to one week. "The cost difference is patient-specific depending on implants they pick, but not very much," he says.

And today patients have more options than ever when it comes to selecting their implants. "There are numerous lens implants on the market that allow people to have more freedom from glasses and contacts," says Dr. Susanne Hewitt of North Fulton Eye Center. "There are multifocal implants such as Alcon's Restor and Abbott's Tecnis, and accommodating implants such as Bausch & Lomb's Crystalens, that allow people to be significantly less dependent on their distance and reading glasses after lens replacement/cataract surgery. There are several toric implants that correct astigmatism at the time of lens replacement as well.  Also, people who have been successful with monovision with contact lenses can achieve this effect after lens replacement surgery to become less dependent on readers."

Common Eye Conditions

Presbyopia - This is the lack of ability to focus up close and affects such tasks as reading, computer use, cell phone use or any task within arm's length. It is caused by the thickening and hardening of the crystalline lens and can be corrected with reading glasses, multifocal glasses, contact lenses or clear lens exchange.

Droopy eyelids - These are usually caused by ptosis or dermatochalasis. Ptosis can be caused by the age-related weakening or stretching of the major muscle that lifts the eyelid called the lavation muscle. Dermatochalasis is an age-related decrease of skin elasticity, allowing the skin of the eyelid to loosen and sag. When there is a loss of vision associated with droopy eyelids, insurance usually covers the blepharoplasty surgery, which involves the removal of excess skin and fat causing the drooping of the eyelids.

Dry Eye Syndrome - This occurs when the eye does not produce a sufficient amount of tears, or when the tears are not of the proper consistency to wet the eye normally. Treatments include prescription eye drops, over-the-counter drops, surgical cautery or silicone plugging of the tear drainage canals to slow down the drainage of tears into the nasal canal.

Flashes and floaters - These are caused by the liquefaction of the vitreous gel located deep within the eye. They can also occur when the vitreous capsule detaches from the retina. Floaters can be annoying but are usually not a cause for alarm and are a natural consequence of age. Flashes of light can be a more serious symptom caused by retinal detachment, migraine headaches or a by product of the vitreous merely pulling on the retina.

Cataracts - A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye, which causes decreased visual acuity. The lens of the eye is made of proteins arranged in a precise manner, but as we age, the proteins can clump in a random manner, rendering the lens opaque instead of transparent.

eye-2Macular Degeneration - The macula is the center of the retina, and this tissue can break down with age, causing a loss of central visual acuity. The two main types are classified as dry and wet macular degeneration. There is no real curative treatment for dry macular degeneration, but a healthy diet and nutritional supplements can slow its progression. Wet macular degeneration is characterized by hemorrhages in the macula area that can cause permanent vision loss. This is treated by injecting therapeutic agents into the back of the eye that reduce abnormal blood vessel growth and subsequent bleeding. New genetic tests can predict the likelihood of developing macular degeneration.

Glaucoma - This disease is characterized by progressive damage to the optic nerve inside the eye and is usually associated with an elevated intraocular pressure. It often has no symptoms during the initial stages, and only a qualified eye doctor using advanced diagnostic equipment can diagnose it during the early phases. The first sign is often the loss of peripheral vision, but as the disease progresses it can lead to blindness.

— Information courtesy of optometrist Dr. Alan Hymowitz

Over 40 Eyes

It's an exciting time for patients over 40, particularly now that presbyopia can be managed with clear lens exchange surgery and with increasingly accurate digital lenses. "Lens materials are getting thinner and more lightweight, so comfort should not be an issue," Dr. Locke says. "Now we even have contacts targeted for early or emerging presbyopes (age 40-50)."

According to Dr. Pare the use of oral antioxidants or "eye vitamins," is gaining popularity as well. "Their effects have demonstrated a slowing of the progression of macular degeneration, but their ability to actually prevent eye disease is less understood and less demonstrated with controlled clinical trials."

Most experts still agree, however, that glasses are the gold standard for improving vision non-surgically. "Decreasing near vision after age 40 is caused by physiologic changes to the lens inside the eye and the muscle that works to change the focus power of the lens," Dr. Pare says. "While it is problematic for most people, it is rarely due to any pathologic condition. Some oral medications can exacerbate this condition, but it is most often addressed with the use of reading glasses or bifocals."


Editorial Resources

Dr. Niraj Desai – Milan Eye Center,

Dr. Susanne Hewitt and Dr. Richard Pare – North Fulton Eye Center,

Dr. Alan Hymowitz – Eye Haven of Atlanta,

Dr. Takeia Locke – Family Eye Care Center of Atlanta,

The unstoppable Elaine Sterling sets a new standard in beauty education

What can you accomplish with a hope, a prayer, a credit card and six students? Well, if you're Elaine Sterling, quite a lot actually. This was how the South African native started The Elaine Sterling Institute School of Esthetics (ESI) in Sandy Springs, a school that houses both a learning facility and a spa.  As I wait to speak with the visionary behind ESI, I notice a lone Betta fish, staring aggressively at me from his bowl in the middle of the table. These fish are known for their fighting temperament and I idly wonder if he was chosen on purpose as a warning? Or maybe he is a mascot? I don't have time to ponder this further as Sterling comes striding purposely through the doors, an easy smile on her face and her hand outstretched in greeting. It's hard to imagine this confident woman was ever anything but successful.

Rocky start
The road that got Sterling from being an out-of-work esthetician to running her own school was definitely paved with challenges.  A short time after arriving in Atlanta, her marriage fell apart and Sterling found herself in a strange country, divorced and raising two children.  But she had a skill in her arsenal – her esthetician degree.  She knew she could do something in the beauty field, so after getting the accreditations for working in the U.S., she began her career. In the beginning, she worked three jobs to make ends meet. After working as an esthetician, she became a sought-after trainer for Spa Sydell and began teaching others. Then, at the age of 35, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. "The cancer was really a gift," Sterling recalls. "It changed me. It made me stronger and bolder. When I finished my radiation, I made a decision to change my life. I was not going to be afraid. I didn't know that my school would be successful, and everyone thought I was crazy when I opened it. I didn't listen to anybody, because I knew I had a vision and a dream."

Path full of promise
Today that dream is a reality and has paved the way for others to achieve their goals of working in the beauty field. "The beauty industry – and education – is really about empowering women," Sterling says. "It's giving them a hand up, not a hand out." The students that fill the rooms at ESI are diverse in age, background and culture, but they have one thing in common: the desire to fulfill their dreams. Many students come to the school because they want to change careers, reinvent themselves or simply start over in a field that has always called to them. Sterling explains that the majority of the students are on their second or third career, and only five percent are just coming from high school. "Women can really design a career for themselves (here)," says Sterling. "They can add it to their existing career; they can still be a mom if they want to be and work part time, or they can do it full time." As an entrepreneur and trained esthetician, Sterling creates a unique learning environment for her students. She knows first-hand both sides of the business and is able to pass that knowledge on.

Graduates of ESI get hands-on training experience and can earn a variety of accreditations and certifications including the ITEC (International Therapy Examination Council) from London and the CIDESCO (Comité International d'Esthétique et de Cosmétologie) from Switzerland. These certifications make it possible for students to work at spas outside the U.S., which opens up a world of possibilities. Beyond the education students get at ESI, they also receive job placement assistance. "I always tell my students, if you're not as good as or better than me when you graduate, then I have failed you," says Sterling. "So that is my goal is for them: to be brilliant."

elaine-sterlin-1Success achieved
Even with the ever-changing economy and its ups and downs, Sterling believes we are slowly coming out of the recession. She comments that there is always a need to help people learn new skills. "We're changing women's lives by educating them, giving them the skills, and empowering them to really create their own destiny.  Whether it is direct sales, or spa, or doctor's office, equipment sales, education, whatever it is, they can really create their niche." She notes that no one is retiring at 65 anymore and she hopes to still be working into her 80s. "I think working keeps us young, keeps us connected, and keeps us inspired," she says.

Sterling believes that part of achieving success is to never stop learning. "Fifteen years ago, there wasn't much on the Internet, and I had to teach myself and find somebody to train me," she notes. "Now the students have access to so much information that I didn't have. So, grab onto that information and never stop learning." Sterling admits that even after so many years in the business, she is still educating herself. "I'm still going to class, I'm still learning and that is what made me better, faster, stronger than everybody else, the fact that I kept going to class, I kept pouring (knowledge) into myself, so I was able to give back to the industry."

Maybe it's her bravery in the face of the odds she's overcome or her unapologetic way of discussing her successes, but like that Betta fish, I can see that nothing has dulled Sterling's fighting spirit.  She believes in what she is doing and sees her school having a positive effect on the people that walk through its doors. "I want the students to have the opportunities that I had, I want them to get the top jobs, and to never give up on their dreams."

Thursday, 25 July 2013 18:27

Following Your Dreams into a New Career

It's never too late to follow your dreams

Adult learners, typically defined as over the age of 25, have comprised close to 40% of the college-going population for the last two decades, according to the American Council on Education.

Once upon a time, people worked for one company for the duration of their career and then retired. But in the 21st century, not only do most people hold several jobs during their lifetimes, but they also undergo complete career changes. Gone are the days of suffering through a job you hate—today, you can find your passion, go back to school at any age, and create a life you love. Plenty of older, professional and retired workers are returning to school and reaping huge rewards. It can feel like a daunting process, though, so we'll break it down into a manageable plan so you can end up in your dream job with minimal headaches and maximum happiness. The first step, appropriately, is to do your homework.

Why Make the Switch?
A career change is typically driven by one of two things, according to Jerry Heilpern, career services director at the Art Institute of Atlanta (AIA). The first reason is that the person has been stuck in a career they dislike while longing to do something that actually excites them. The second reason is that some workers have seen the effects of the economic shifts and realize their industry is either unstable or could even become obsolete.

David Dixon, assistant director of admissions at Oglethorpe University, also sees students he calls "career advancers," who have hit a ceiling at work and need a higher degree to break through it. "We've really come into an age where the bachelor's degree is the new high school diploma," he says.

Reality Check
Before you dive into researching educational opportunities, you should first investigate the profession to be certain that your dream is in line with the reality of the job you want. "If you're going to make that major life-changing decision, first you need to do some soul searching and find out what you are passionate about," Heilpern says. "Do serious research on that industry and what the career path looks like for that industry." He recommends learning about where you would start out in the profession, and if you would have to start at the bottom, how long should you expect to stay there? Get to know what an actual day in the life is like in that profession. Once you are certain that you have selected the right career, you are ready to find the educational program that will best prepare you.

New degrees? Yes, please!
Adult degree programs are so varied that you're almost guaranteed to find a program that's perfect for you and your career switch. Dixon explains that Oglethorpe's most popular programs for adult learners are business, psychology and communications. At AIA, students flock to the culinary arts program, with audio production coming in second, followed by graphic design, fashion retail management and video production.

Kennesaw State University's College of Continuing and Professional Education offers 45 professional certificate programs, according to Dean Barbara C. Calhoun. "Our offerings represent a variety of industries, including culinary, web design, paralegal, human resources, healthcare, languages, computers and technology," she says. This college alone serves more than 20,000 people annually.

Kennesaw State University also houses the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), which offers educational and social opportunities specifically for adults age 50 and older. OLLI students, about 2,800 of them a year, enjoy classes in art, history, fitness and music appreciation. Students can even receive a certificate upon completion of computer courses, where they'll learn everything from the basics to advanced programming.

If health and wellness is something you are interested in, Life University offers a variety of degrees including chiropractic health, exercise science and nutrition. They also offer masters of science degrees in sport health science, exercise sport science and sport injury management. For adults over the age of 55, Life University has the LIFE Center for Seniors which gives adults the option to continue learning, working on self-improvement, health enhancement and connecting with fellow students. Class offerings include fitness, computer literacy, wellness, nutrition, cooking, tennis and more. Life College was established in 1975 as a college of chiropractic, and by 1990, it had grown to become the largest chiropractic college in the world. In 1996 Life College expanded its degree offerings to include an undergraduate school and became Life University.

Money Matters
Now that you've researched your new field and identified some possible educational programs, it's time to figure out payment. Some schools have special programs for adult learners; for example, Oglethorpe offers these students a type of flat rate per-class fee rather than a per-hour fee. AIA is aggressive with internal scholarships and grants that can be received in addition to federal aid. Belhaven University Adult Continuing Education Program includes the use of textbooks in their tuition fees, so you don't have to plan for that added expense. Military benefits can also offset financial burdens, and the Workforce Investment Act provides funds for workers who have been displaced.

No Fear
For adult learners, readjusting to the life of a student can be difficult, and some fear the idea of being the old person in the classroom or being embarrassed. Study habits and note-taking skills must be redeveloped. For students who have been out of school for a decade or more, working with technology may seem daunting. But don't worry—good schools and programs will make sure that you fit right in and have plenty of support. Oglethorpe's adult degree program offers classes during the evening that cater to older and working students, and the Academic Success Center helps students get the support they need.

Back to Work
Once a student completes the educational portion of a career change, the reality of re-entering the workforce comes with its own difficulties. "It's really like starting all over again," Heilpern says. In some industries, it will not matter what you used to do, how high up the ladder you had climbed or how successful you were. You will still have to pay your dues in the new profession, and starting with a completely clean slate will "change your life in a dramatic way," Heilpern says.

Although balancing school, life and expenses can be tough, the reward is "being happier with yourself and your life overall," Dixon says. A new degree or certification can move you into a career with a long-term trajectory. Putting some time and thought into planning your career realignment up front will help lead to a positive lifelong transition. Just keep your eye on the prize—waking up every day and doing a job that really feeds your soul. Eventually, Heilpern says, you'll be able to say, "It's the best decision I ever made."


Real Success Stories

cindy-kaufmanCindy Kaufman was 41 years old when she left her position as a marketing director in the beverage industry. "I realized more and more how much I wanted to extricate myself from 'Corporate America,'" she says. "I also grew resentful of the fact that I was working 90 hours a week and making someone else rich. There was little personal satisfaction left in what I was doing. I was just a number on a corporate cost center spreadsheet."

She left her job to attend the interior design program at Savannah College of Art & Design in Atlanta full time. She found herself surrounded by young students, where her life experience turned out to be an advantage. "There is no way I could have done this program as my original undergraduate degree at age 18 and been successful at it," she says. Currently, she's living her dream working for a small independent design firm called Holt Interiors. Though the career shift was a little scary, Kaufman says, "It's worth it. Life is really beautiful when you see it through an unclouded vision of how you wish to live."


karen-carrFor Karen Carr, finding a program that fit with her lifestyle enabled her to complete the degree she had started after high school. "I went to Oglethorpe because they had an evening program," she says. She entered with lots of transfer credit and completed a bachelor's degree in communications with a minor in art in two years while working full time.

While Carr is still searching for the right job in her new profession, she already has a sense of accomplishment for completing what she started. "I know having that degree is going to be helpful," she says. "No one can take your education away from you." Addtionally, people should try to avoid accruing heavy debt. "Have a solid plan on how you are going to pay for it or pay it back."



tammie-gruhnWhen she was laid off from her job, Tammie Gruhn benefited from the Workforce Investment Act by receiving funds to earn training in a different field. Entering KSU's paralegal program at 44, Gruhn attended full time and doubled up on classes to finish in one year instead of two. While in school, she made a point of networking and interning continuously, which she credits with her success at finding a position when she graduated. For someone considering a career change, she recommends the same type of dedication. "I would find somebody that does the job you think you want to go to school for and do an internship or shadow that person. You really need to know what the job is and what it's like." While it was the economy that pushed Gruhn into her current field, working in family law has given her a sense of purpose. "I like to think that with my job, I can make a difference in somebody's life. I was just a grandmother who decided to go to school in her 40s," she says. Today she is a senior paralegal at The Gunn Firm and president of the Cobb Legal Professional Association.


Average Job Wages: How do they stack up?

Chef/head cook: $42,480

Graphic designer: $44,150

Paralegal: $46,990

Computer programmer: $74,280

- Courtesy of the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics' report on occupational employment and wages, May 2012

Editorial Resources
Barbara C. Calhoun, Kennesaw State University College of Continuing and Professional Education –
Belhaven University –
David Dixon, Oglethorpe University –
Jerry Heilpern, Art Institute of Atlanta –
Life University –

Where to go in Atlanta

Belhaven University (404) 425-5590 See ad p. 49

International School of Skin, Nail Care & Massage Therapy (ISSN) (404) 843-1005 See ad p. 47

Life University (770) 426-2884 See ad p. 2

10 ways to stay fit and healthy on the job

Businesses always have money in mind, and when it comes to getting healthy, this can work to your advantage. Some employers offer financial breaks on healthcare costs or even cash bonuses to encourage employees to implement healthier habits in their lives like eating less fast food, taking walks on their breaks, and stopping smoking. Incentives can give you a tangible result for your hard work perhaps before you see the physical results. And who doesn't want a little extra cash? Now that you're motivated, here are some ideas to help you and your coworkers achieve your get-healthy goals.

You Are What You Eat
During a busy day at the office, sometimes it's hard to pause your work and figure out how to have a healthy lunch. Instead of scrounging up 75 cents for M&Ms from the vending machine, why not opt for a healthier snack option? Companies like Healthy Vending can install eco-friendly vending machines in your office that offer better-for-you products like coconut water, dried fruit, and pita chips.

Challenge Your Team
With all that energy you'll have from your healthy snacking at the office, it's time to get the whole company up and moving. Larry Lipman's Fun Team Building offers Atlanta Ropes Courses to encourage creative problem solving, teamwork, and of course, physical fitness. Companies have two ropes courses to choose from—the low ropes course, which is a ground-based obstacle course, or the high ropes course 30 feet up in the trees that will really get your heart pumping and burn some calories. Whichever course your company opts for, you're sure to see physical benefits of the activity and mental benefits from the deeper connection with your coworkers.

Join a League
Another way to build team spirit while improving your fitness is to literally join a team—a sports team, that is. Get a group of coworkers together and join a local softball or basketball league through an organization like Atlanta's ZogSports. Even if your level of play is lower than others, you can still get out there and run around with your officemates. Any sport you choose will boost your heart rate, your mood, and your bond with each other.

Get Climbing
If you really want to test that bond, let a coworker hold your belay rope as you tackle the 60-foot rock climbing wall at Stone Summit Climbing & Fitness Center. Rock climbing is a great total body workout, even exercising your mind as you analyze which hand or foothold to head to next. And where better to do it than the largest indoor climbing wall in the U.S.? Stone Summit offers corporate memberships, so rally the troops and head out for a climb.

One Step Forward
For those of you quivering in your desk chair at the thought of having to throw a ball or be high off the ground, don't think you're off the "office fitness" hook! There are still plenty of options for you, like starting a running or walking group with your coworkers. Take a mile-long walk together during part of your lunch break to stretch your legs, give your eyes a rest, and catch up on each other's lives outside of work. You'll return to the rest of your day more productive, more cheerful, and one mile more fit. Another option to include coworkers from every fitness level is to go on a corporate fitness retreat.

Team Building Events
Kaiser Permanente Corporate Run/Walk
Many companies get motivated by participating in different events. Corporate Environments and J.M. Huber Corporation are two companies who have formed teams for this year's Kaiser Permanente Corporate Run/Walk. This year marks Corporate Environments' fourth year participating in the event. As a company, this is the biggest event they are involved with outside of the office. With nearly 20 employees currently registered, the captains of J.M. Huber Corporation's team are organizing team walks during lunchtime at or near the office and encouraging team members to participate in the free, eight-week Get Active Atlanta! training program.

We asked our Facebook community:
How does your company keep its employees healthy?

Anisa International – Gym memberships
Anisa believes in wellness coming from within and promotes exercise and well-being as part of a balanced lifestyle. The company offers a pay-back program where the company covers the cost of gym membership fees. They have also brought in yoga instructors to the office a few times.

— Shana A. King, Senior Director, Beauty & Education

Advanta Total Health – 90-day office health challenge
All of the employees wanted to lose a few extra pounds, so we all decided to participate in a program designed to eat healthier for 90 days. We start our morning with a meal replacement shake by Visalus and for lunch we have a spinach salad. Each person eats a healthy dinner at home. We weigh-in every Monday and at the end of the 90 days we each will receive a $50 gift card for participating, courtesy of Dr. Schuyler. To us it is not who loses the most, it's the journey.

— Corde Carter, Clinical Director

DeKalb Medical – Training programs
We created an employee health and wellness program called "I REACH! 4 Health" to reinforce the connection between our employees' health, wellness and ability to demonstrate our values. We are empowering our employees to get active, eat healthy, reduce stress and improve sleep. Our goal is to have at least 250 employees participate in the Kaiser Permanente Corporate Run/Walk & Fitness Program.  The "I REACH! 4 Health Corporate Run/Walk Challenge" is a means for employees get into better shape, train to run or walk in the race, and build healthy social connections.

— Shealynn Buck, MD, Executive Director Employee Health Solutions

Kaiser Permanente of Georgia – Healthy snack options
Kaiser Permanente of Georgia is introducing "Healthy Picks" inside its vending machines. The snack items must fall into one of three categories: heart healthy, low sodium or low sugar. Taste tests were held to introduce the Healthy Picks to patients, employees and doctors. "We want to show people that healthy food can taste good and be convenient and affordable," says Kathryn Harrison, manager of health promotion at Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. "Although we realize that this change alone may not dramatically alter our dietary habits, it is an important first step toward helping us all achieve a healthier diet."

— Kerri Hartsfield-Johnson, Kaiser Permanente of Georgia


Editorial Resources
Healthy Vending –
Kaiser Permanente Corporate Run/Walk –
Larry Lipman's Fun Team Building –
Stone Summit Climbing & Fitness Center –
ZogSports –

16,000+ Runners/Walkers and over 400 Companies

Enjoy Fun, Fitness & Company Camaraderie

Turner Field, Thursday, Sept. 12, 7 p.m.


What is it?
Calling all runners, walkers and joggers! If you're looking for a great way to stay in shape, build camaraderie with your fellow coworkers and be a part of the largest organized corporate fitness event in the Southeast, then you won't want to miss a second of the excitement planned for the 2013 Kaiser Permanente Corporate Run/Walk & Fitness Program. Directed by U.S. Olympian Jeff Galloway since 1983, this workplace-organized fitness program has become an annual tradition in the Atlanta business community. The start date for this year was July 15 when the 8-week "Get Active Atlanta!" training phase kicked off. The current phase will last through Thursday, Sept. 12, when this year's 5K Corporate Run/Walk & Company Picnic steps off at 7 p.m. in downtown Atlanta.

What's included?
The free 8-week training program for registered participants includes:

• Walking and running training schedules from Jeff Galloway for beginner and veteran walkers and runners

• Ongoing weekday walks and runs with pace groups at both Phidippides stores, Atlanta's premier running specialty stores (Sandy Springs 6:15 p.m. Wednesdays and Ansley Mall 6:30 p.m. Thursdays)

• Saturday morning Running & Walking Training Program with pace groups - Kickoff on July 20, 7:30 a.m., Phidippides at Ansley Mall

• Kaiser Permanente Boot Camp in Piedmont Park, July 20-Aug. 24

• Fitness tips emailed weekly

• Discount coupons on fitness items and services

• Aug. 15-Sept. 11 - Complimentary workouts at LA Fitness – all Metro locations

kp-1What's happening September 12?
The program culminates in a giant celebration of fitness on Thursday, Sept. 12, across from Turner Field, with a 5K (3.1-mile) run/walk that winds through the business district of downtown Atlanta. After the finish line, there are commemorative T-shirts for all participants, team and candid photos with unlimited free downloads, music by The Rupert's Orchestra, awards ceremony and a Healthy Living Expo (starting at 4 p.m.), plus company teams (employees, family, friends) gather in tents for hundreds of office picnics, popularly known as the "World's Largest Office Party." Individuals have the option of purchasing a boxed dinner from Jason's Deli at registration.

Run/Walk details:
There will be separate, monitored start areas for elite runners, CEOs, runners/joggers and walkers. Seeded runners must include a qualifying event on registration form, and elite runners must submit official documentation for qualifying times:

• Open Men – 6 minutes/mile

• Open Women – 7 minutes/mile

• Masters (40 and over) Men – 6:15 minutes/mile

• Masters Women – 7:15 minutes/mile

• Awards are handed out to top Overall and Masters Men and Women, best team times, Most Overall Participation and best T-shirts. CEO Cups will go to the fastest male and female CEOs.

kp-5The Kaiser Permanente Corporate Cup is presented to Atlanta's "most fit" companies in four categories, based on the number of full-time employees. Participation awards also are given to companies in each of 38 industry categories.

kp-2New this year for an improved start:

• Walkers and runners will have different colored event numbers. Follow the signs to the appropriate start area.

• Seeded runners must include 2012-13 qualifying race information with registration by Aug. 22, 5 p.m., and will receive a seeded section pass from their team captains.

• Elite runners must submit official race results documentation from 2012-13 race to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Aug. 22, 5 p.m. to receive a special race number, which will allow entry into the upfront section.

• Elite and seeded sections will be monitored and must be in place at the start line by 6:30 p.m.

kp-3Back by popular demand:

• Expanded CEO categories: 30 employees and 30 or more employees

• Music by The Rupert's Orchestra

• Healthy Living Expo hosted by Best Self Atlanta magazine

• T-shirt contest

• Free team and candid photos

• A portion of the proceeds benefits the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Back on My Feet and the Atlanta Braves Foundation. Corporate Can Contest benefits the Atlanta Community Food Bank. The McCart Company is the reigning champion, winning the last three contests.

kp-42012 Healthy Company Award Winners:

• Kaiser Permanente Corporate Cups

• <100 – Meadows & Ohly, LLC

• 100-999 – Cotton States Insurance

• 1000-4999 – Verizon

• 5000+ – Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

• Highest Number of Participants: Verizon

How do I sign up?
For more information or to register, visit or call (404) 843-8727. Follow the program on Facebook and Twitter.