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University of Iowa News Release

May 7, 2003

(Photo: Hilary Beaver, M.D., assistant professor (clinical) in the University of Iowa department of ophthalmology and visual sciences)

Eye Specialists Urge Commitment To Healthy Vision

Eye conditions and diseases that can rob you and your loved ones of vision could strike at any time in life, from newborns to older adults.

In honor of May's Healthy Vision Month, eye specialists across the nation are urging Americans to take care of their eyes, as well as the eyes of their loved ones, and to pay attention to warning signs and visit an eye specialist regularly.

"Many people associate eye problems with getting older. Although seniors are at a higher risk for eye disease, these problems may have started earlier. Vision loss could have been prevented if the problem was caught earlier in the course of the disease." said Hilary Beaver, M.D., an assistant professor (clinical) in the University of Iowa department of ophthalmology and visual sciences. "Preschoolers, senior citizens, diabetics and others with risk factors for eye problems all need regular eye care. Too often they don't get it, and the sad result is vision loss."

Infants and toddlers should be screened for common childhood 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 about age 3.

Some warning signs that your child may have vision problems include wandering or crossed eyes, a family history of childhood vision problems, a disinterest in reading or viewing distant objects, and squinting or turning the head in an unusual manner while watching TV.

"Most children and teenagers have healthy eyes, but they still need to take care of their vision," Beaver said. "The major danger to the eyes at these ages is accidental injury." Beaver recommends protective eyewear for all activities that present a risk of eye injury. An eye specialist can recommend the appropriate protective eyewear.

Even the young adult and middle-aged groups can be affected by eye problems. Those at risk for eye disease include African-Americans over age 40 (glaucoma), people with diabetes (diabetic retinopathy) and those with a family history of eye problems. If you fall into one of these groups, check with your eye specialist to find out how often you need to have a complete eye exam. These individuals should have a complete eye exam at least once between the ages of 20 and 29, at least twice between ages 30 and 39, and every two to four years between ages 40 and 65.

Seniors over age 65 should be examined at least every one to two years for cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and other eye conditions. Those with diabetes should be examined every year.

Protecting your eyes from accidents, and early detection and treatment of eye problems, are the best ways for you and your family to take care of your vision throughout life. If you or your family are at risk for eye diseases or experience any eye problems, visit your eye specialist. You can also learn more online by visiting www.uihealthcare.com/eyecare.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at http://www.uihealthcare.com.

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Planning, Marketing and Communications, University of Iowa Health Care, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room 8798 JPP, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009.

CONTACT(S): Tom Moore, 319-356-3945, thomas-moore@uiowa.edu.