Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

IU Health and Wellness

Research and insights from Indiana University

Jan. 26, 2012

IU Health and Wellness for January discusses the following topics:

Picking the right glasses for the beach and the slopes
Teens, independence and substance abuse
When pets are friends, not tools

The A's and B's of sunglasses and UV. Whether spring break plans include sunning or snow skiing, it's important to protect the eyes with sunglasses. The sunglasses that best protect eyes offer both UV-A and UV-B protection.

"Vacationers need to protect their eyes from both forms of ultraviolet light," said Melanie Pickett, assistant professor of ophthalmology in the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Ophthalmology at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute. "People have come to understand the importance of using sunscreen to protect their skin from the sun's harmful rays, but many people are unaware of the damage that can be done to their eyes."

The American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Ophthalmology encourage year-round eye protection to reduce the risk of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and growths on the eye, including cancer.

Sunglasses might be a beach staple, Pickett said, but they often are forgotten in the winter. Exposure to the sun can cause photokeratitis, or snow blindness, which is temporary sunburn to the surface of the eye. Studies have shown that sun reflecting off the snow can be harsh, Pickett said. Studies also have shown that skiers and snowboarders are not consistent in protecting their eyes.

When looking for sunglasses for your beach or skiing vacation, Pickett advises finding glasses that meet these requirements:

  • Block 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays.
  • Screen 75 to 90 percent of visible light.
  • Wraparound styles are best, so the sunglasses wrap around your temples, preventing the sun's rays from entering from the side.

Additionally, Pickett says vacationers should:

  • Wear a hat in addition to sunglasses. Wide-brimmed hats provide the most coverage and protection.
  • Remember that the sun's rays will pass through haze and clouds. Also, if possible, limit exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the time when the sun's rays are strongest.
  • Remember when your middle school science teacher told you not to look directly at the sun? Well, he was right. Looking directly at the sun at any time can cause damage to the eye's retinas.
  • Remember that children need protection, too. Get them in the habit of wearing sunglasses while they are young.
  • It is also important to cover your eyes if you use a tanning bed.

These precautions can prevent future problems, Pickett said.

"It's also important to have an eye exam at least every two years to monitor your eye health," she said. "A baseline eye exam at age 40 is also recommended to look for signs of conditions that affect the aging eye, such as cataract, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration."

To speak with Pickett, contact Vicki K. Hermansen at 317-274-7517 or For more information about the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute, visit Top

Teens, independence and substance use. Parenting teens and steering them away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco use is a perennial challenge made even more difficult by easy access to the Internet. In a matter of seconds, teens can obtain information online about where to purchase drugs such a prescription pain pills, and they can find resources that show them how to get high using over-the-counter drugs. The use of social networking sites and slang terms for drugs and alcohol are methods that teens use to keep parents in the dark about what they are doing with free time.

"Teenagers need independence and boundaries," said Courtney Stewart, research associate at the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University. "Trying to maintain both can be a tricky balance for parents."

So, how do parents keep a step ahead while not stifling their kids' development? "It may sound simple but it can be very difficult -- talk to your teens, let them know you notice that something seems different about their behavior and most importantly, when your teen talks to you, listen and don't interrupt," Stewart said.

Other important steps parents can take include helping teens make a plan for how to refuse drugs if the situation arises; making it clear parents expect their children not to use drugs; and making teens aware of family rules concerning drug, alcohol and substance use. Stewart said parents should be involved in their teens' lives, know their friends and know their friends' parents.

"Encourage your teen to get involved in activities outside school like volunteering and working," she said.

Some common methods teen use to fool their parents about substance use:

  • Avoidance. This is seen when teens stay away from home until parents are in bed, or when they spend most of their time at a friend's house where boundaries and supervision may not be as strict as in their own home. This also includes faking illness or sleeping in order to be left alone.
  • Lying. This can include giving parents false information about who they are with, where they are going and what they are doing.
  • Manipulation. Teens may act as if they want help for a substance use problem in order to satisfy their parents, when in reality they are still using drugs or alcohol.

Stewart can be reached at 812-855-5556 or The Indiana Prevention Resource Center is part of the Department of Applied Health Science in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at IU Bloomington. Top

Dog Kiss

Photo by Mike Baird,

Good doggie! Good caretaker!

Companion animal vs. tool. Are you a pet owner or the caretaker for your companion animals? A cultural sociologist from Indiana University South Bend says the Humane Society of the United States has played a significant role in helping Americans see themselves as the latter.

Other animal advocacy groups contribute to this, too, but the Humane Society is the largest animal advocacy organization in the country, said David Blouin, assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and its influence can be seen nationwide in the policies of animal shelters and in local ordinances.

"The basic logic behind just about everything the HSUS does is that these animals, dogs and cats, are important, sentient creatures with interests of their own," Blouin said. "Humans' treatment and dealings with animals should take into consideration the interests and concerns of the dogs and cats first."

Blouin's study, presented during the American Sociological Association's annual meeting, is part of a larger research project examining Americans' attitudes toward their dogs and the influences behind these attitudes. Traditionally, the largest group of dog owners in the U.S. could be described as dominionists, people who see animals as lesser creatures, often keep them outside and expect them to be useful, such as with hunting or with home and personal security.

Another group of dog owners could be described as humanists, people who cherish their pets and treat them almost like a child or close friend. This group, Blouin said, likely has overtaken the dominionists in size. He describes a third and growing group as protectionists, people who cherish animals, similar to the way humanists do, but also have a more universal concern about animals in general.

After conducting a content analysis of the Humane Society's websites, programs and educational material, Blouin concluded that the Humane Society was a major source for the protectionist view. It emphasizes a lifetime relationship between animal companions and their caretakers, encourages sterilization to combat overpopulation of animals, opposes pet stores because of their fundamental purpose of raising animals to make money, and promotes a strict screening process for adoptions.

"Their logic is clear: Dogs and cats are friends, not tools," Blouin said," and they belong inside with the rest of the family."

Blouin can be reached at 574-520-4501 or dblouin@iusb@edu. Top

For additional assistance with these news items, contact Tracy James, IU Communications, at 812-855-0084 and