While the New York Times began selling ads on its front page last week (as do several of its major competitors), we at U.S. 1 continue to resist the trend.

But that doesn’t mean that the presence of advertisers is never felt on our cover. This issue, with its reference to winter wellness, is a case in point. Here’s the background:

As we do on several occasions during the year, our advertising sales people arranged a series of display ads and accompanying advertising features around a single subject — in this case a mid-winter examination of physical fitness and mental wellness concerns. The stories and ads came together in a way that even our desk-bound editors found to be compelling. So winter wellness shares cover billing with our other major story this week, on the remarkable story of Jim McCloskey and his Centurion Ministries.

So how can you tell the difference between editorial content, for which no one pays and which is edited under the supervision of the editors, and “advertorial content,” which in most cases is submitted to advertisers for final approval? Given the media clutter in which we all live, that’s a good question. In our case advertorials are generally printed in a different typeface than our editorial content. Beyond that, and even more to the point, advertorial sections begin with a simple declaration: “A U.S. 1 Advertising Feature.”

To see what it looks like, please turn your attention to the section that begins on page 12. As always we welcome your comments and criticisms — concerning whatever content we present.

To the Editor:

Health Savings’

Hidden Costs

Yes, everyone is trying to save money! Families are cutting all kinds of things from the budget. But I want to caution that putting off eye exams, dental visits, and other preventive medical care can be problematic in the long run. It’s one thing to postpone a haircut or give up a manicure but regular eye examinations, for example, can yield a lot more than just a prescription for new glasses or contact lenses.

The eyes are a window into the health of the whole person. During more than 40 years of practice, I’ve seen many outwardly healthy patients who come for vision testing and I’ve discovered such serious conditions as hypertension, arteriosclerosis, Lyme disease, diabetes, and even, in one case, a brain tumor. In fact, in one patient who came in because he thought he needed reading glasses I found mini hemorrhages inside the eye as well as undiagnosed hypertension. Another man, in his 40s, with no obvious health issues except some additional pounds was found to have hypertension serious enough to cause an imminent stroke. And noting the swelling of the optic nerve in a 50ish pharmaceutical executive, I was able to diagnose a pituitary tumor.

Another area where neglect can be dangerous is with children — especially those who have learning problems. It is acknowledged by educators and eye professionals that children who have difficulty in school often suffer from vision problems that have not been identified and that can be remedied with vision therapy. This is more than just a proper prescription for eyeglasses. Vision problems in children can delay their development, affecting walking, learning, and socializing.

Eighty percent of what a child learns before age 12 is through their visual system and many children who have amblyopia or “lazy eye” and other eye muscle problems are not diagnosed and treated early enough to get the best results. We know that early assessment is essential for children’s eye function and that success in many areas of children’s lives is enhanced when proper remediation is pursued. We’ve been successful in fitting contact lenses for many young children, resulting in increased facility in sports, better vision for academics, and added social confidence.

Parents of infants need not worry about the budget when it comes to an examination and evaluation of their babies’ vision. I see infants as young as six months for assessment and evaluation as part of the InfantSee Program of the American Optometric Association in partnership with the Vision Care Institute of Johnson and Johnson. This is a voluntary free service.

The value of the program is proven over and over again. In one case a participating optometric physician examined a ten month old girl and diagnosed a congenital tumor in the eye that had been missed by the child’s pediatrician. The eye had to be removed in order to save the baby’s life. But had it been diagnosed earlier, the eye could have been treated and most likely saved.

But don’t put off an eye exam to save money. Doing that might lead to health emergencies that might have been prevented.

Dr. Charles Allen

Dr. Allen operates Princeton Eyecare Associates at 601 Ewing Street (609-924-3567). An optometric physician for more than 40 years, Allen’s practice includes various issues relating to children’s vision. He is offering free consultations and evaluations through January for people who have previously been unsuccessful in wearing contact lenses and for children with learning problems who have not been professionally evaluated by an eye professional.

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