By Laurie Edwards-Tate (Twitter: @AYHFamilycare)
SAN DIEGO, January 14, 2014 — Throughout the month of January, glaucoma awareness is brought to the fore with its message of prevention and hope.
The precious gift of sight, one of the most critical of all the senses, is not able to be fully experienced or enjoyed by those affected with glaucoma.
Over 2.7 million Americans and over 60 million people world-wide have glaucoma, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
In fact, glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness, due to damage to the optic nerve.
Glaucoma is a stealthy disease of the eyes, affecting one or both of them. It may occur without any obvious symptoms. If left untreated, it will gradually lead to ever-increasing loss of sight, and possibly blindness.
The most common forms of glaucoma are open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for glaucoma at this time.
With glaucoma’s variety of risk factors, the Mayo Clinic offers the following list of symptoms which may be indicative of potential onset:
1. Elevated internal eye pressure.
2. Age. The risk factor is higher for those ages 60 and older.
3. Ethnic background. African Americans and Asians are at greater risk than Caucasians.
4. Family history. Glaucoma may have a genetic predisposition.
5. Medical conditions. Diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and hypothyroidism create greater risk.
6. Other eye conditions. A variety of eye injuries, eye conditions, and eye surgeries may create increased risk.
7. Long-term corticosteroid use. Long-term use of any corticosteroid drugs may lead to the development of this ocular disease.
Though developing glaucoma does not always lead to complete blindness, it may lead to partial vision loss, especially if not diagnosed and treated early.
It is recommended that persons over the age of 40 undergo a comprehensive eye examination every three to five years, and for those 60 and over, every year.
Since glaucoma also affects infants and children who have developmental glaucoma, it might be highly beneficial to begin regular eye examinations at an early age.
It is advisable to discuss your family history age, ethnicity, and general health condition with a qualified health care professional and determine when a complete, comprehensive eye examination is indicated.
Currently, the World Health Organization estimates that there are 4.5 million people worldwide who are blind due to glaucoma.
With the anticipated growth of the aging population, the likelihood that the numbers of those afflicted by glaucoma will also increase, leading to an “epidemic of blindness,” according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
There is no doubt that predicted increases in the onset of the debilitating ocular disease will portend to have staggering impacts on future worldwide social and economic trends.
Taking preventive measures to help deter the onset of glaucoma, and slow down its progression if it does develop, is critical to maintaining independence and good quality of life.
Maintaining overall good health is critical. Eating a healthy diet, not smoking, engaging in appropriate exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, keeping blood pressure at a normal level, reducing stress, and undergoing regular eye exams are fundamental to prevention.
Losing the ability to fully, visually experience the beauty of nature, the joy of reading a favorite book, or looking into a loved one’s eyes, and so much more of life’s simple joys, would be tragic.
Help raise awareness about glaucoma throughout the month of January, communicating the preciousness of the gift of sight.
For further information, education, or to learn how to help, contact the Glaucoma Foundation:
251 Post Street, Suite 600
San Francisco, CA 94108
“The soul, fortunately has an interpreter-often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter-the eye.” -Charlotte Bronte
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities” columnist since 2011, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.
In addition to writing for “Communities,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.
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