HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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Everyone at one time or another has had a good cry. Crying is a way of releasing numerous emotions – joy, fear, sadness, relief, pain. Do you ever think about tears – what they’re made of or how they work to protect your eyes? There is more to tears than meets the eye.


Tears contain proteins and other substances that maintain eye health and combat infection. They help keep the eyeball moist. Each time we blink, we distribute fresh tears across the eyes. The average person blinks 15 to 20 times per minute, about 1,200 times per hour and 28,800 times a day. We are born with about 45 tear (lachrymal) glands in each eyelid. Tears have three main components that mix together to create a film that covers the white of the eye and the cornea. Tears have different layers: an inner mucus layer; an oily layer covering the outside area; a watery or aqueous layer – the bulk of the tear, which keeps the eye hydrated; and a layer called the tear film that coats the cornea so tears flow over it easily. When the oil glands along the edge of the eyelid become inflamed, this can cause the tear film to evaporate.


According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (www.aao.org), there are three types of tears. Basal tears lubricate, nourish and protect the cornea. Some tears form to remove foreign objects from the eye. These reflex tears wash away harmful substances, such as dirt, smoke and stray eyelashes. Reflex tears contain more antibodies than basal tears to help fight bacteria. Emotional tears may contain hormones

TAKING A LOOK AT TEARS

and proteins that are not present in basal or reflex tears. Normal tears contain enzymes, metabolites and electrolytes. When you make a lot of emotional or reflex tears, they overwhelm the lachrymal drainage system. That is why tears spill out of your eyes and run down your cheeks – they have nowhere else to go.


Your eye doctor can analyze your tears and learn a lot about your eye health. Tears will tell him or her if you have pink eye, a bacterial virus or an allergy. Allergies, infections and other irritants can increase tear production. From age 18 to 65 years, the average person’s tears begin to change. Once you stop making enough normal tears, you start making more runny, watery tears.


The tear ducts get clogged over time by dirt and oil. This can cause dry eye. An eye infection, swelling, injury or a tumor can also cause a blocked tear duct. The tear drain can get plugged as well. Contact lenses and certain medications also cause dry eye. To combat dry eye, apply moist heat to your eyes on a regular basis. Wet a washcloth with warm water and place it on your eyes for several seconds or purchase a special soothing mask. Other treatments for dry eye include the use of artificial lubricants bought over the counter or medications that decrease inflammation in the tear glands and encourage natural tear production.

TANYA J. TYLER

Tanya J. Tyler is the Editor of Living Well 60+ Magazine

more articles by tanya J. tyler