Take Charge of Your Health


How important are vision screenings to elementary school students? What medical conditions can make a pregnancy high-risk? What’s the secret of soy? At what age does a woman need her first mammogram? How can you keep your heart healthy as you age? We address these questions—and others—in this informative special section.


Remember lining up outside the nurse’s office for your annual eye exam? You’d cover one eye at a time, read letters from a chart, and for many of us, that is when we learned we needed glasses.

Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, standardized screenings have been eliminated in many schools resulting in undetected vision issues in school-age children. Impaired vision affects both a child’s ability to learn and to participate in a range of activities –both in and outside the classroom. Routine vision screening is important, because many abnormalities are treatable if discovered early, and if left untreated, could lead to vision loss and blindness.

In 2007, Phillips Eye Institute launched the Early Youth Eyecare (EYE) program to help remove vision problems as a major roadblock to learning by providing regular vision screenings to thousands of kindergarten, first and fifth grade students. This comprehensive vision outreach program also provides subsequent treatment services to those who need follow-up care.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child,” says David Orbuch, president of Phillips Eye Institute. “Simple vision screening, coupled with further treatment, can help to close the achievement gap and put these kids ‘back in the game’ so they can reach their full potential.”

Funding for the EYE program comes from private foundations, corporate funding, and individual donors as well as proceeds from successful annual urban cocktail party events.


There’s a lot to think about when it comes to women’s health care. Not only do women differ from men when it comes to health care and wellness (women are prone to different types of sports injuries, recover differently from stroke, and exhibit different symptoms when it comes to heart disease), but they also have to worry about menstrual cycles, PMS, pregnancy, the debilitating effects of osteoporosis, menopause, cervical cancer, and breast cancer.

From birth control and heavy bleeding to infertility, incontinence and menopause, the physicians of OBGYN West, an obstetrics and gynecology clinic with locations in Minnetonka and Eden Prairie, are there to help.

“We offer personalized care,” says Dr. Wesley Grootwassink of OBGYN West. “Unlike some clinics, where you see different doctors for different problems, here we focus on one doctor per patient, so we can be with you every step of the way.”

The nine physicians at OBGYN West are kind, supportive, attentive, dedicated, and trustworthy. Above all, they love of helping their patients.

Early and regular prenatal care is imperative for women at all ages, although there are unique risks posed with a pregnancy later in life, such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia (pregnancy induced high blood pressure), and vaginal bleeding.

“We can discuss and tailor a woman’s care to meet virtually any medical conditions that could complicate a pregnancy,” Dr. Grootwassink says. “We work through these issues together so that the end result is a healthy mom and baby.”

They also offer minimally-invasive treatments for urinary incontinence and other issues, and offer permanent contraception options. “We’ll always stay true to our message of personalized care, but we also strive to offer our patients cutting-edge options for treatment,” he says.

Another concern for women is calcium intake. After age 30, a woman’s bones begin to lose calcium, which can lead to osteoporosis, or “brittle bones.” To avoid this, a woman’s diet should include plenty of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin C.

Breast cancer also becomes a concern as women celebrate more birthdays. Women should schedule a potentially life-saving mammogram starting at age 40 (if a woman has no other risk factors in her medical history).

Tips for healthy living

* If you smoke, quit. Not only is it bad for your lungs—studies show that those who smoke are more likely to develop wrinkled, leathery skin than nonsmokers. “As people age, you can tell if someone smokes, or has smoked, just by looking at them,” says Dr. Grootwassink. “It also increases virtually every disease, even cervical cancer.”

* Always wear sunscreen, even in the winter. Find one that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.

* Men in their 40s should schedule a rectal exam. Prostate cancer—detectable with a rectal exam—is the leading fatal cancer in non-smoking men in their 40s.

* Boost your intake of folic acid before becoming pregnant; it helps reduce the risk of some birth defects.

* Consider adding soy to your diet; it may help decrease hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. It’s also been linked to preventing osteoporosis.

* According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease claims twice as many women’s lives as breast cancer and all the other forms of cancer combined. The good news is that many of the same preventative measures recommended to reduce breast cancer risk also apply to cardiovascular disease: quit smoking, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and reduce stress.

* As you age, include regular visits to the eye doctor for vision tests and glaucoma and cataract screenings.

* Get a standard physical every year. ∆