Quiz: Seniors, How Much Do You Know About Your Eyes?

From the day you bought that first pair of reading glasses, you may have worried that your vision would go steadily downhill. While it's true that eyes can weaken with age, there's no law that says all seniors are doomed to poor eyesight. In fact, people can have excellent vision in their 80's and beyond -- especially when they're armed with a little knowledge. Take this quiz to see how much you know about aging eyes.

1. Which of the following is most important for protecting your vision?

a. Sunglasses

b. Limiting your time at the computer

c. A good reading lamp

d. Eyedrops

2. Which of the following is NOT true about presbyopia (diminished ability to focus on objects at close range)?

a. It affects everyone as they age

b. It worsens every year

c. It's easily corrected with reading glasses

d. It tends to be more severe in farsighted people

3. Which of these eye diseases used to be untreatable?

a. Glaucoma

b. Cataracts

c. Most cases of macular degeneration

d. Diabetic retinopathy

4. Which of the following factors is linked to increased risk for glaucoma?

a. Diabetes

b. Family history of glaucoma

c. African-American heritage

d. All of the above

5. Which of these precautions might help prevent macular degeneration?

a. Regular doses of aspirin

b. Eating spinach and corn

c. Using a reading lamp

d. All of the above

6. Which of the following is usually NOT a symptom of serious eye disease?

a. Dimming peripheral vision

b. Floaters

c. Impaired night vision

d. Halos around lights

7. How can people with diabetes ward off blindness?

a. Control blood pressure

b. Control blood sugar

c. Both a and b

d. Blindness is inevitable

Answers

1. Which of the following is most important for protecting your vision?

The correct answer is: a. Sunglasses

Too much sunlight can damage your eyes and lead to cataracts. That's why sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat should be standard equipment whenever you're out in the sun.

2. Which of the following is NOT true about presbyopia (diminished ability to focus on objects at close range)?

The correct answer is: b. It worsens every year

Once you reach age 65 or so, the level of this condition stays fairly constant. Until then, you'll probably need to upgrade your reading glasses every few years to keep up with changes in your eyes.

3. Which of these eye diseases used to be untreatable?

The correct answer is: c. Most cases of macular degeneration

Nine out of 10 people with macular degeneration have the "dry" form of the disease, which used to be untreatable. However, very recently new treatments have been developed that can delay the onset of or prevent a cascade of events that lead to macular degeneration. New therapies utilizing gene manipulation, laser treatments, antioxidant vitamins, and medicines can help prevent this terrible disease.

4. Which of the following factors is linked to increased risk for glaucoma?

The correct answer is: d. All of the above

If you're over 40 and have any of these risk factors, be sure to see an eye specialist regularly (twice a year is recommended) and get help promptly if your peripheral vision starts to fade.

5. Which of these precautions might help prevent macular degeneration?

The correct answer is: b. Eating spinach and corn

Many eye experts believe that a diet rich in lutein and zeaxanthin - carotenoids found in yellow corn and dark green, leafy vegetables - can help prevent macular degeneration. One study by the National Institutes of Health found that people who ate spinach or collard greens five or more times each week were almost 90 percent less likely than others to develop macular degeneration.

6. Which of the following is usually NOT a symptom of serious eye disease?

The correct answer is: b. Floaters

Spots that drift through your field of vision may be annoying or even alarming, but they probably don't signal a serious problem. If the floaters are accompanied by flashes of light, however, this may signal a detached retina. (Halos around lights and impaired night vision are early signs of cataracts, while fading peripheral vision is the hallmark of glaucoma.)

7. How can people with diabetes ward off blindness?

The correct answer is: c. Both a and b

Longstanding diabetes almost always causes some damage to the retina, but it doesn't have to lead to blindness. People with the disease should keep blood sugar and blood pressure under control -- and monitor their vision by seeing an eye specialist at least twice a year.

References

Mayo Clinic Family Health Book. William Morrow & Co.

National Institutes of Health. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). http://www.nih.gov/about/researchresultsforthepublic/MacularDegeneration.pdf

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