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Keep Your Eyes Young and Healthy

By Jacqueline D. Griffiths, MD, Medical Director at NewView Eye Center

Preventive eye care is important to everyone because eye conditions and diseases that can destroy you and your family’s healthy vision can strike at any time in life, from newborn to old age. Read below for suggested guidelines on when you and your family should have your eyes checked. Infants and toddlers should be screened for common eye problems, such as strabismus (crossed eyes) and Amblyopia (lazy eye) during their regular pediatric appointments. Vision testing is recommended for all children starting at around three years of age.

Most children and teenagers have healthy eyes, but they still need to take care of their vision by wearing protective eyewear when playing sports, doing yard work, working with chemicals, or taking part in other activities that could cause an eye injury.

Even young adults and middle-aged individuals can be affected by eye problems, so preventive measures should be taken to detect eye diseases early and to protect eye from injury. These individuals should have a complete eye exam at least once between the ages of 20 and 29, at least twice between the ages of 30 and 39 and every two to four years between the ages of 40 and 65.

Seniors over age 65 should have a complete eye exam by their Eye M.D. every one to two years for cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and other eye conditions.

The suggested examination guidelines are:

  • Ages zero to two: screening during regular pediatric appointments
  • Ages three to five: screening every one to two years during regular primary care appointments
  • Ages six to 19: schedule examinations as needed
  • Ages 20 to 29: one examination
  • Ages 30 to 39: two examinations
  • Ages 40 to 65: examination every two to four years
  • Ages 65 and over: examination every one to two years

But check with your Eye M.D. to see how often you should have a complete eye exam if any of the following risk factors affect your eyes:

  • History of eye injury
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of eye problems
  • African American over age 40

Protecting your eyes from accidents, early detection, and treatment of eye problems are the best ways to keep your healthy vision throughout life. If you and your family are at risk for eye disease or experience any eye problems, visit your Eye M.D. promptly. Find out what it takes to preserve your vision and prevent common eye problems. How many of these questions about vision can you answer correctly?

  1. Which of the following habits can weaken your eyes?
    1. Watching television sitting too close to the screen
    2. Smoking
    3. Reading in dim light
    4. Not wearing prescription lenses if you need them
  2. Which vitamin(s) should you take to protect your eyes if they’re sensitive to light?
    1. B1
    2. B2
    3. B12
    4. All of the above
  3. Eating which of the following foods helps prevent and alleviate conjunctivitis?
    1. Apples
    2. Broccoli
    3. Eggs
    4. Yogurt
  4. Menopause can cause dry eyes.
    1. True
    2. False
  5. Eating which food prevents macular degeneration?
    1. Eggs
    2. Bran
    3. Mushrooms
    4. Spinach
  6. Which of the following minerals should you take to relieve an eyelid twitch?
    1. Copper
    2. Iron
    3. Magnesium
    4. Zinc
  7. When is it most important to wear sunglasses?
    1. During the summer
    2. From 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
    3. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    4. During the winter
  8. Which of the following drugs makes your eyes more sensitive to sunlight?
    1. Antibiotics
    2. Aspirin
    3. Oral contraceptives
    4. All of above
  9. Taking high doses of zinc can cause macular degeneration.
    1. True
    2. False
  10. A poorly functioning liver can cause glaucoma.
    1. True
    2. False

Answers can be found at the end of this article.

Fast Facts

Fast Fact #1:

Your eyes use more oxygen than any other tissue in your body.

Fast Fact #2:

Make Healthy Choices. More than 13 million Americans have age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. Age, smoking, high blood pressure, and exposure to sunlight increase your risk of developing this disease.

Fast Fact #3:

Rest your eyes. Computer vision syndrome symptoms include sore eyes, blurred vision, and headaches. To avoid this syndrome, reduce screen glare and take a five-minute computer break every 20 minutes.

Answer Key:

  1. B. How close you sit to the television, low light reading, and not wearing your glasses won’t weaken your vision, reports Prevent Blindness America, a nonprofit eye health group in Schaumburg, IL. But studies show that breathing cigarette smoke can indirectly damage your eyes.
  2. D. B vitamins reduce your light sensitivity. Take 25 to 50 mg of B1, 25 to 100 mg of B2 and 1000 to 2000 mcg of B12 daily.
  3. D. The healthy bacteria L. acidophilus in yogurt combats the bacteria that causes conjunctivitis. Eat 1 1/2 cups of yogurt with active cultures daily.
  4. A. Women’s tears contain high levels of the hormone prolactin, which decline after menopause, resulting in dry eyes. To help reverse this problem, be sure to get enough potassium (500 mg daily), a mineral that metabolizes fluid. Also, take vitamin B complex (50 mg daily). B vitamins, especially folic acid and B6, are crucial for tear production.
  5. D. Spinach contains lutein, a plant pigment that prevents macular degeneration. Each day, eat four to eight ounces of cooked Spinach, or take two to six mg of lutein in capsule form.
  6. C. Muscle spasms trigger twitches in your eyelids. For relief, take up to 400 mg of magnesium (a known muscle relaxant) twice daily. If a twitch persists, also take 50 mg of vitamin B6 daily.
  7. C. It’s crucial to wear sunglasses between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., even on cloudy or winter days. Look for ones that block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
  8. D. Antibiotics, aspirin, and oral contraceptives make your eyes sensitive to light. Wear sunglasses if your medication’s label includes a photosensitization warning.
  9. B. Taking the mineral zinc doesn’t cause macular degeneration. In fact, a recent study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology reported that high doses of zinc (80 mg daily), taken in addition to vitamin C (500 mg), vitamin E (400 IU), and beta carotene (15 mg), slow its progression.
  10. A. A qi, or life energy, deficiency in the liver can cause glaucoma, according to traditional Chinese medicine. The Chinese herbal formula hsaio yao wan improves liver energy.

To learn more about ways to keep your eyes young and healthy, and to take a proactive approach to your eye health, contact NewView Eye Center to schedule an eye exam. Call (703) 834-9777 or visit