Dr. Zolman's Blog


1470 Tobias Gadson Blvd #115 |  Charleston, SC 29407  | Phone: 843-556-2020

Have you gotten your vitamin D today? Adequate levels of vitamin D are essential for the maintenance of your systemic and ocular health.


What is Vitamin D and what does it do? It is a fat-soluble steroid hormone that helps calcium be absorbed in the gut and the regulation of serum calcium and phosphate concentrations. Its job in the body is: to help bones grow and for bone remodeling, protect against certain autoimmune diseases (like multiple sclerosis, type I diabetes, colorectal and breast cancer,) and to reduce inflammation and blood pressure.


Where can you get Vitamin D? Everyone has heard that we make vitamin D from being in the sun: which is true! UV-B rays allow the body to synthesize vitamin D. In addition to the sunlight, vitamin D can be obtained from supplements and certain foods, such as fish oil and fortified milk. The Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board established an upper limit of 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 as supplementation.


So where do the eyes come into play with vitamin D? One study indicated that there was an association with serum vitamin D levels and early macular degeneration. Also one study showed that patients that had a vitamin D deficiency were more likely to have hypertension, diabetes and diabetic retinopathy.


It is a sad reality that many Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. But we know that with adequate exposure to sunlight, an effective diet and use of supplementation you can keep your vitamin D at healthy levels.


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I love what I do! I love the patient interaction, treating and managing eye disease, seeing babies in our InfantSEE program and finding answers for parents through vision therapy. But one of the things that I love about what I can do is give back to my community with the talents and skills that I have established. One program that is near and dear to my heart is The Special Olympics Lion’s Club International Opening Eyes. I have been the co-clinical director of the South Carolina Opening Eyes program since 2007 and have enjoyed every minute of it! We had our Charleston event a few weeks ago and I just wanted to share with you how much we were able to do and some pictures from the event. We screened 126 athletes, made 53 pairs of prescription glasses, made 7 pairs of prescription sports goggles, distributed 60 UV protection plano sunglasses, and made 7 referrals for full exams due to risk of eye disease. If you are interested in volunteering to help at one of our future events, please contact me at the office.


What the program is all about:


Special Olympics Lion’s Club International Opening Eyes


The mission of Special Olympics Lion’s Club International Opening Eyes program is to improve the quality of the life for the millions of individuals diagnosed with intellectual disabilities by optimizing their vision, eye health, and visual skills through quality eye care. The objectives of the Opening Eyes program include: 1. providing screenings to Special Olympic athletes, 2. education the athletes, parents, and coaches of the vision care needs of persons with intellectual disabilities worldwide, 3. increasing knowledge of visual and eye health needs of persons with intellectual disabilities through research.  Past research conducted with the athletes at Special Olympics events has revealed that 68 percent have not had an eye examination in 3 years, 27 percent needed glasses and 18 percent of the athletes were wearing clinically incorrect glasses. The opening eyes program is represented in all states and worldwide. Where you find Special Olympics, you will find the Opening Eyes Program. The screenings include visual acuity, color vision testing, stereo vision, cover testing, pupil testing, anterior and posterior health of the eye, intraocular pressure measurement, refractions and, if needed, complete pair of glasses and/or sports goggles are made at no cost to the athletes or their families.


The program is run by optometrists and volunteers. South Carolina’s Special Olympics Clinical Directors are Jennie Smith, OD, FCOVD and Michael Zolman, OD.  They organize, recruit volunteers, run the event and send in the glasses orders for the 3 Special Olympics events in South Carolina. Area Optometrists volunteer to do the screenings on the day of the events. Usually there are 5-10 optometrists at each event.

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Kale is a super food for the eyes. It is an excellent source of Lutein (an antioxidant that protects the eyes from UV and oxidative damage). You ask, “But what can you make with Kale?” So I went on a search to find today’s Healthy Eye Friday Recipe. I found this one on allrecipes.com

Baked Kale Chips


  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt


1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.

3. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.


I got this post from the American Optometric Association. Elevated Cholesterol can cause major changes on the vessels and retina in the back of the eye.  

Added Sugar May Adversely Affect Cholesterol Levels.

USA Today (4/21, Hellmich) reports that added sugar may adversely affect cholesterol levels, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Investigators "at Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta examined the added sugar intake and blood fat levels in more than 6,100 adults."

        Bloomberg News (4/21, Ostrow) reports that participants "in the middle sugar-intake group, who consumed from 10 percent to 17.5 percent of their calories from sugar each day, had a 1.5 times greater risk than those in the lowest consumption group of having low HDL levels." Participants "in the highest sugar consuming group had about a three times higher risk of having lower good cholesterol than the lowest consuming group." The investigators "also found that as sugar consumption rose so did levels of blood fats or triglycerides."

        The UK's Daily Mail (4/21, Poulter) reports that "the study...found many people were unaware of how much sugar they were eating."

        The UK's Telegraph (4/20) reported that "the study did not look at natural sugars found in fruit and fruit juices, only added sugars and caloric sweeteners."

        CNN (4/21, Watkins) reports that the study "authors concluded that their data support dietary guidelines that aim to cut consumption of added sugar."

        HealthDay (4/20, Edelson) reported that "people in the study who got 25 percent or more of their calories from sugar reported gaining an average of 2.8 pounds in the previous year, while those whose sugar intake accounted for less than five percent reported an average weight loss of about a third of a pound."

        The researchers found, according to MedPage Today (4/20, Smith), that "as the intake of added sugars rose, participants were more likely to be younger, poorer, and non-Hispanic black."

        WebMD (4/20, Boyles) pointed out that, "in guidelines released late last summer, the American Heart Association recommended limiting added sugar in the diet to no more than 100 calories a day for most women and 150 calories for most men." Reuters (4/21, Fox) also covers the story.


Spring is here! During your spring cleaning, if you find old eyeglasses, bring them into our office to recycle. We participate with Lion's Club's Recycle for Sight. Lions Club collects, cleans, repairs, and uses them for mission work. What a great way to re-use your old specs! There is a drop box in the optical.