Smiling woman on fitness ball in exercise class

This simple test can set you on the road to a lifetime of better health

(BPT) – Here’s a sobering statistic for you: 20 percent of all deaths in the United States can be attributed to poor lifestyle factors and behavioral choices. It’s difficult to swallow, but fortunately new research also finds that those who take the time to establish a simple screening routine improve their chances of modifying their behavior toward a healthy lifestyle.

The research, appearing in the Journal of Community Medicine and Health Education, shows that individuals who had undergone a cardiovascular screening were more likely to take action to modify their lifestyles after the screening. In addition, these steps toward potential better health appear to exist regardless of the actual screening results.

The survey gathered information from 3,267 individuals who were set to receive a cardiovascular screening through Life Line Screening. Participants were predominantly over 50 years of age and mostly women. The survey respondents were divided into two groups: those who were surveyed after they had their cardiovascular screening and those who were screening-naïve, meaning they had yet to undergo a cardiovascular screening.

Both groups were asked questions about their current and future health plans and once the surveys were completed, results from the two groups were then evaluated to determine a participant’s motivation to modify their lifestyles. This evaluation took into account the act of the screening and whether the presence of a completed screening modified behavior.

Results of the research show a statistically significant difference between those who had been screened and those who hadn’t with regards to modifying future behavior. These behavior modifiers included healthy initiatives such as enjoying a healthier diet or adding exercise to a person’s daily lifestyle.

Perhaps more interesting, researchers found participants were more interested in improving their healthy lifestyle after the screening regardless of their individual screening results. In addition, patients who tested normal, abnormal or even critical during their screening were all more likely to make health changes after the screening when compared to their prescreening counterparts. Those who recorded abnormal or critical results also reported being more likely to follow their doctor’s exact directions and take all of their medications on the predetermined schedule.

You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are

Heart disease remains the No. 1 killer of men and women in the United States, accounting for roughly one quarter of all deaths according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet despite this shocking statistic, many people remain unaware of their current cardiovascular health.

Enrolling in a cardiovascular screening is a fast, easy way to understand your current cardiovascular health and provide you a basis for future health care decisions. It’s an important first step and one that can ultimately lead to a healthier, longer life.

To learn more about cardiovascular screening and to find screening options in your area, visit www.lifelinescreening.com.

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Beat the heat: Tips to stay healthy and hydrated

(BPT) – Americans love summertime and with good reason. It is the best time for outdoor fun and travel with family. Many people enjoy outdoor activities such as bicycling, kayaking and hiking, and kids are more active with sports.

One thing to keep in mind when out and about in the summer heat is to stay properly hydrated. Unfortunately, many of us are not drinking enough water. In fact, 36 percent of adult Americans drink only three or fewer cups of water per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here are some tips for healthy hydration.

Replace your electrolytes

Engaging in physical activity when it is hot outside means you lose water which has to be replaced. You are also losing electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and bicarbonate) which need to be replaced. Very high temperatures — especially for a prolonged period — can be dangerous, especially for seniors.

Ideally, anyone engaging in outdoor activity in the heat or even an indoor exercise program should drink 8 to 12 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during a session. If exercising exceeds an hour, a beverage that contains electrolytes is preferable to plain water. That is why most sports drinks contain salt. Of course anyone can easily make their own sports drink by adding a quarter to a half teaspoon of salt per liter or 32 ounces of water.

Replacing lost electrolytes is important because they help to regulate cardiovascular and neurological functions, fluid balance and oxygen delivery.

Avoid hyponatremia

Replacing water without sufficient salt can produce hyponatremia, a potentially deadly condition caused by too little sodium in the bloodstream. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include nausea, muscle cramps, disorientation, confusion, seizures, coma and even death.

There have been several documented cases of illness and even deaths from hyponatremia over the past several years. According to the British Medical Journal, 16 runners have died as a result of too little sodium and over-hydration, while another 1,600 have become seriously ill. It is true that water intoxication is more commonly seen among extreme athletes, but older individuals may also be at risk for several reasons.

Exercise and aging

It is important to be active but be careful not to push yourself especially in high heat. As we age, our kidneys become less efficient at conserving the salt we need when the body is stressed, such as from dehydration and high temperatures. When combined with common medications such as diuretics, which are commonly prescribed to treat hypertension, the result could be a greater risk for hyponatremia.

When you exercise, your body’s metabolism works at a much higher rate, breaking down and regenerating tissues and creating waste metabolites that need to be flushed out of your system. However, regardless of your level of activity, you still need to maintain good hydration. So remember to always drink plenty of water to beat the heat, but you may also want to up your intake of electrolytes.

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Allergens and indoor air quality: 4 steps to a healthier home

(BPT) – When at home, you’re probably relaxing, playing with the kids or tackling chores. What you aren’t likely doing is thinking about the air you’re breathing. Unfortunately, the reality is poor indoor air quality in residential spaces is a major problem.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission points to a growing body of scientific evidence that the air within homes can be more polluted than the outdoor air in large, industrialized cities. In fact, EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) studies found levels of about a dozen common organic pollutants to be two to five times higher inside homes than outside, regardless if the home is in rural or industrial areas.

While you can’t control the allergens and pollutants lurking outside, there are many ways to take action inside the home to improve your indoor air quality. From installing BEAM central vacuum systems to implementing smart moisture mitigation strategies, follow these four steps and breathe easier at home:

Step 1: Eliminate dust mites

Dust mites can be prevalent, especially in bedroom spaces. Wash all sheets, blankets, pillowcases and bed covers in hot water that is at least 130 degrees F. to kill dust mites and remove allergens, notes the Mayo Clinic. If bedding can’t be washed in hot water, put items in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at a temperature above 130 degrees F.

To further prevent mites in sleeping spaces, use dust-proof or allergen-blocking covers on mattresses, box springs and pillows. If you have kids, don’t forget to wash stuffed animals regularly in order to sanitize.

Step 2: Vacuum smarter

One of the easiest things you can do to improve indoor air quality is to vacuum thoroughly and regularly on all levels. However, traditional vacuums are heavy and difficult to move to different floors. Furthermore, they can kick up more dust into the air than they are removing. Due to these concerns, many homeowners are considering the benefits of central vacuum systems.

For example, BEAM central vacuums remove air, dirt and dust vacuumed from the home, whereas conventional vacuums may filter dirt and dust but recirculate the same air via the exhaust back into the home. BEAM Central vacuum maintenance is easy because the units have a self-cleaning filter that helps improve air quality during the vacuuming process.

How do central vacuums work? These systems have one permanent, hidden power unit with inlets in walls throughout the home that attach to power hoses and accessories. BEAM central vacuum systems are engineered with motors that provide powerful suction for a deeper clean; however, with the power unit located away from the living area, the quiet hush of airflow is all you will hear.

Step 3: Freshen air wisely

Open windows aren’t always the best way to bring in fresh air. When pollen levels are high, the spores can come into a home and stick to every surface. On high-allergen days, refresh air and cool the home with fans or the air conditioner, and clean preferably with a central vacuum to maintain high indoor air quality.

As an additional line of defense against dust mite debris and allergens, you should use a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter with your central furnace and air conditioning unit, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. If that’s too costly, the EPA says filters with a MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) between 7 and 13 are likely to be nearly as effective as true HEPA filters at controlling most airborne indoor particles. No matter which you use, try to change the filter every three months.

Step 4: Mitigate moisture

Mold thrives in dark, damp climates, so it’s important to eliminate places for growth. To start, be aware of moisture levels throughout the home. Always use the bathroom exhaust fan to inhibit moisture buildup. Fix leaky faucets as quickly as possible and stay on top of maintenance for appliances like the refrigerator and air conditioner.

Additionally, consider using a dehumidifier to decrease the amount of moisture inside the home. This can be particularly important during rainy seasons or in basement or cellar spaces, if your home has them.

You can breathe easy with these four easy steps to better indoor air quality. To learn more about a healthy, clean home, visit www.buybeam.com.

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CA Raisin Walnut Banana Oatmeal Cups

Research shows California Raisins positively impact diabetic nutrition

(BPT) – Research highlighted at the American Diabetes Association’s 77th Scientific Sessions suggests California Raisins — an all-natural, dried-by-the-sun, no-sugar-added fruit — can positively affect glucose levels and systolic blood pressure among people with Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).

“Raisins are excellent food choices for most individuals, including those with Type 2 diabetes mellitus,” said James W. Anderson, MD, Professor of Medicine and Clinical Nutrition, Emeritus, University of Kentucky.

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control reported that more than 29 million Americans are living with diabetes, and 86 million are living with prediabetes, a serious health condition that increases a person’s risk of Type 2 diabetes mellitus and other chronic diseases.

Given the magnitude of the diabetes problem, and knowing that the nutritional quality of foods is one factor that influences glucose levels and cardiovascular disease risk among patients with T2DM, a first-of-its-kind study was conducted with California Raisins and patients with T2DM.

This 12-week study among 51 individuals with T2DM found that regular consumption of raisins — as compared to a variety of popular snacks — positively impacted both glucose levels and systolic blood pressure. The research, published in The Physician and Sportsmedicine journal, revealed study participants who consumed 1 ounce of raisins three times a day for the duration of the study, as compared to a group that ate a comparable amount of popular snacks, were shown to have:

* A 23 percent reduction in postprandial (post-meal) glucose levels

* A 19 percent reduction in fasting glucose

* A significant reduction (8.7 mmHg) in systolic blood pressure

These findings build on an earlier study where 46 men and women with pre-hypertension were randomly assigned to snack on raisins or snacks that did not contain raisins or other fruits or vegetables, three times a day for 12 weeks. The results indicated that eating raisins three times per day:

* May significantly lower blood pressure among individuals with pre-hypertension when compared to other popular snacks.

* May significantly lower postprandial (post-meal) glucose levels when compared to other popular snacks of equal caloric value.

Both studies were conducted at the Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerotic Research Center (L-MARC) by Harold Bays, MD, medical director and president of L-MARC and funded by the California Raisin Marketing Board.

“With California Raisins, the ingredient list says it all: Raisins. They’re made for healthy snacking and it’s easy to whip up delicious, diabetes-friendly dishes with raisins, too — like my recipe for California Raisin Walnut Banana Oatmeal Cups. Bake a batch of these simple, no-sugar-added oatmeal cups on the weekends, and you’ll have breakfast or snacks all week long,” says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, a nutrition consultant, author and mother of three.

California Raisin Walnut Banana Oatmeal Cups

Recipe created by Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD

Makes 16 servings.

Ingredients:

3 cups oats, uncooked

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

3 ripe medium bananas, mashed well

1/4 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups 1% low-fat milk

1/2 cup California Raisins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Set aside.

3. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the mashed bananas, oil, eggs and vanilla extract until well combined. Whisk in the milk.

4. Pour the banana mixture into the oats mixture. Add the California Raisins. Stir well to combine. The batter has a lot of liquid in it, so don’t worry if it looks soupy.

5. Fill the muffin cups nearly to the top with batter (1/4 cup full).

6. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack for 5 minutes, with the muffins still in the pan. Remove the muffins from the pan and allow them to cool on the wire rack. Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Per serving: Calories: 169, Carbohydrate: 22 grams, Fiber: 3 grams, Protein: 5 grams, Fat: 8 grams, Saturated fat: 1 gram, Cholesterol: 28 milligrams, Sodium: 157 milligrams, Calcium: 90 milligrams.

Visit www.calraisins.org for more diabetes-friendly recipes and information about both studies.

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A happy pet is a hydrated pet


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(BPT) – It’s a warm summer day — the sun is shining, the sky is blue and the scent of blooming flowers fills the air. As a pet owner, you’re probably planning to take your dog on a walk, maybe even several. Meanwhile, your cat has found that sunny space underneath the windowsill.

Sound familiar?

If so, then you already know how much cats and dogs enjoy basking in the sun, but just like people, over-exposure to heat can cause our furry friends to become varied versions of themselves. And too often signs of dehydration, which frequently appear in the form of lethargy, dry mouth and loss of appetite, are confused with run-of-the-mill exhaustion.

Considering all the things we do know about our pets, it’s hard to believe that we wouldn’t recognize the symptoms that accompany something as serious as dehydration. But the truth is that unless you know which indicators to look for, it can be easy to misdiagnose. That’s why the experts at PetSafe have compiled a list of tips and tricks for making sure your pet is experiencing healthy hydration all year long.

Keeping them hydrated

Water is without a doubt the single most important resource you can provide your animal, especially during hot summer months. Whether outside or inside, dogs and cats should consume around one ounce of water per pound each day. In other words, if you have a 20-pound terrier or a 20-pound tomcat, they should have access to at least 20 ounces of cool, clean drinking water every day.

It’s also important to remember that liquid can evaporate quickly in high temperatures, so if your pet’s water source is outside it’s best to check on the amount of available water several times throughout the day or consider purchasing an auto-fill watering bowl like the Drinkwell(R) Everflow Indoor/Outdoor Fountain by PetSafe.

How do I detect dehydration in my pet?

The observable signs of dehydration will frequently include one of more of the following symptoms:

· Lack of skin elasticity. You can test this by gently pinching or pulling some of their skin. If it doesn’t return to a normal position, your pet is likely dehydrated.

· Drop in energy levels

· Dry, sticky gums or foam around the mouth

· Heavier than average panting

· Loss of appetite

· Sunken, dry eyes

· Vomiting

Treatment and prevention

If your dog or cat exhibits any of these behaviors or symptoms, it’s important to seek veterinary attention where they will likely monitor the body temperature of your pet.

To prevent dehydration, pet parents should consider taking active measures to encourage pets to drink more water. Products like PetSafe Brand Pet Fountains are designed to continually circulate and filter water. This not only provides dogs and cats with a steady source of fresh water, but relieves owners of the constant hassle of refilling the bowl. Plus, the sound of flowing water tends to trigger an animal’s desire to drink more.

With proper care and precaution, your pet can enjoy every season — even summer — while staying happy, healthy and hydrated. Visit PetSafe.com to find more great tips, products and articles on pet care.

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Shining a light on sarcoma

(BPT) – After a summer of healthy eating and exercise, Janice Nicewanner was on the road to better health when she noticed a small lump in her lower left abdomen. She assumed it was scar tissue from a past surgery, but decided to see her doctor six months later after it had grown to the size of a baseball. Shortly after undergoing surgery to remove what her doctors thought was a hernia, Janice found out she had cancer. Specifically, it was a malignant solitary fibrous tumor, a form of soft tissue sarcoma. Janice was 39 years old when she was diagnosed.

“I had never heard of sarcoma before that day,” said Janice. “The word ‘cancer’ never came up as a possibility in any of my initial conversations with my doctors until I received the diagnosis. I was completely blindsided.”

Sarcoma remains an unknown cancer to many. In fact, it is often known as “the forgotten cancer.” However, July is unofficially recognized as Sarcoma Awareness Month by the thousands of patients and their families impacted by the disease.

What is sarcoma?

Soft tissue sarcoma (STS) is among the most distinct and complex types of cancer. It has more than 50 histologic subtypes that arise from connective tissues of the body, including muscle, tendons, fat, lymph vessels, blood vessels, nerves and tissue around joints. The tumors form most often in the arms, legs, chest or abdomen, though they can be found anywhere in the body.

Sarcoma is considered a rare disease; it comprises approximately 1 percent of all adult cancers diagnosed. An estimated 12,390 new cases of STS will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2017, and nearly 5,000 people are expected to die of STS this year.

The challenge of diagnosis

Given the rarity and complexity of this cancer, diagnosis can be especially challenging. Sometimes a patient will need to visit several different doctors before the cancer is properly diagnosed. Patients are encouraged to see a sarcoma specialist at a sarcoma-specific treatment center to get care from a team of interdisciplinary specialists.

Treatment options

Based on where the cancer formed, different types of STS may be treated differently. Therapeutic advancements have been challenging, and the 5-year survival rates for STS have not changed much for many years. Treatments include traditional methods like surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and most recently, targeted therapy.

Due to her specific subtype of sarcoma, Janice’s doctors recommended radiation. After seven weeks of treatment and months of recovery, Janice has been in remission since May 2015.

Advocating for change

“Because sarcoma is so rare and has many subtypes, there is a real gap in statistics and information. It is crucial to be your own medical advocate and seek the best care based on your needs,” she explained.

Janice is now an advocate for sarcoma patients, survivors, caregivers and family members.

“It is my mission to use my experience to educate others about sarcoma and help those impacted by the disease. My positivity carried me through my disease journey, and I am dedicated to helping others find that perspective as well.”

Raising awareness of sarcoma symptoms can help lead to earlier diagnosis and better treatment and support for sarcoma patients and their caregivers. A total of 100,000 signatures are needed to officially designate July as Sarcoma Awareness Month. To show your support for sarcoma patients and survivors like Janice, sign the petition by July 28, 2017.

To learn more about STS, and for resources on the disease, visit the Sarcoma Foundation of America (CureSarcoma.org).

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Five Reasons to Sleep More [Video]


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(BPT) – According to a sleep survey commissioned by ZzzQuil and conducted online by Harris Poll, nearly nine in 10 Americans (87 percent) report they have experienced trouble falling asleep. To help get the word out about sleeplessness in America and why it’s important to make sleep a priority for overall health and wellness, ZzzQuil partnered with Cassey Ho, a health and lifestyle expert recently named as one of Forbes’ top fitness influencers.

Ho understands the three pillars to being truly healthy. “Most people know the first two, but forget the third: eating nutritiously, exercising daily and sleeping enough,” says Ho. “Sleep is everything!”

This is why Ho is partnering with ZzzQuil to share tips on how to get great sleep! On those occasional nights when you just can’t get to sleep, ZzzQuil is a realistic solution that helps you fall asleep in as little as 20 minutes. When jetlagged, she occasionally uses ZzzQuil to help her adjust to the new time zone and get seven to eight hours of sleep to wake up the next day refreshed. That’s her little secret!

Get your ZzzQuil coupon here.

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Pancreatic cancer: Know your family, know your risk

(BPT) – Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers, with a mere 29 percent one-year survival rate. In 2016, pancreatic cancer became the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States, surpassing breast cancer.

The time frame between diagnosis and death is often short. Only 7 percent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survive five years. This is incredibly small compared to prostate cancer or breast cancer, where more than 90 percent of patients survive for five years after diagnosis.

“Most people are unaware of how deadly pancreatic cancer is,” says Jim Rolfe, president of Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation. “These chilling statistics can serve as an eye-opener that motivates people to learn more about their risks and contact their health care professional.”

Early detection is important

Although pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers, early detection can significantly impact survival rates. The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer approaches 25 percent if cancers are surgically removed while they are still small and have not spread to the lymph nodes.

Know your family, know your risk

Family history is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. When you know more about your genetics and which members of your family have been affected by pancreatic cancer, you can better manage your own health.

To make the process easier, the Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation has introduced a new series of online tools. Visit www.KnowMyRisk.org to download a worksheet and access other helpful tools that let you explore your family history and become your own health advocate.

Print out the worksheet and call or visit your grandparents, parents and other extended family members. You may not be aware that someone a few generations removed from you was affected by cancer. Having this conversation can be empowering, because once you know your risks you can take charge of your future.

Consider genetic counseling

When considering how personal a cancer or disease diagnosis can be, it is no surprise that medicine is looking at our DNA to uncover information. This makes genetic counselors an important part of the health care team, helping you ask the right questions and uncover familial genetic risk factors.

If you learn you have a history of pancreatic cancer in multiple family members, you should consider meeting with a genetic counselor to assess your level of risk. From there, the counselor and your doctor can decide on a course of action.

To learn more about genetic counseling and find a local certified genetic counselor at the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ database, visit www.KnowMyRisk.org.

Take charge and be empowered

“Don’t take a backseat when it comes to your health,” says Rolfe. “The first step toward early detection of pancreatic cancer is understanding your family history. From there, you can make informed decisions that help you live a full, healthy life.”

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5 eye health tips that are easy to visualize

(BPT) – Writer Leigh Hunt once said, “The groundwork of all happiness is good health.” It’s a mantra you heed because nothing is more important than your health. That’s why you watch what you eat, you exercise at least three times a week and you avoid tobacco or excessive alcohol use. You’re working hard to improve your body’s overall health, but there’s one integral part of your body that you have yet to focus your health regimen on — your eyes.

It’s easy to take your eyes for granted, but they remain one of your body’s most important organs and, like the rest of your body, they will benefit from your efforts to improve their health. To support your eyes and maintain a healthy lifestyle, incorporate these five tips today.

* Consult an eye care professional. Just as you visit your doctor for your yearly checkup, you should also visit your optometrist once a year to review your eye health. Your optometrist can answer any questions you have about your eyes, and the checkup can help identify eye concerns such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and macular degeneration, which otherwise have no warning signs.

* Read smart. Whether it’s the morning paper, your favorite weekly magazine or a page-turning thriller, reading is one of your favorite hobbies, but sometimes the page can be hard to see. In cases like this, support your eyes with Foster Grant(R) reading glasses. Foster Grant(R) offers high-quality, non-prescription reading glasses in a wide range of strengths suited for your individual eyes. These glasses are prescription-quality lens magnification without the prescription price, and they are available in a wide array of styles, allowing you to support your style as well as your health. Remember, 50 is the new 40, and there’s no reason you can’t look great and see great all at the same time.

* Give your eyes some downtime. If you spend long periods of time looking at a computer screen during the day, be sure to give your eyes a rest by employing the 20-20-20 rule. Look 20 feet away for 20 seconds after every 20 minutes of screen time to help reduce digital eyestrain.

* Embrace digital glasses options. Another solution to help limit digital eye strain caused from using tech devices is to add a pair of non-prescription digital eye glasses. Foster Grant(R) Eyezen(TM) Glasses not only help relax your eyes but also enhance your viewing experience. Most people spend at least 12 hours a day consuming media, according to The Vision Council’s 2016 Digital Eye Strain Report, Eyes Over Exposed: The Digital Device Dilemma. The report also found that it only takes as little as two hours in front of a screen to cause digital eye strain, so start protecting your eyes today.

* An apple a day. A healthy balanced diet benefits not just your overall health but your eyes as well. Carrots have a reputation for supporting eye health, but the most beneficial vegetables are leafy greens like kale or spinach. Collard greens and fish varieties like salmon, halibut and tuna can also help support your eye health, so add them to your next meal.

You’ve already taken the initiative to live a healthier, happier life, so don’t forget to add your eye health as well. By instituting these simple changes, you’ll be feeling and seeing your best. To learn more about reading and Eyezen digital glasses options from Foster Grant(R), visit http://fostergrant.com/.

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