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As we start our year with all sorts of resolutions and goals, let’s set our sights on optical health this month. January is National Glaucoma Awareness month and it’s the perfect time to shed some light on an often misunderstood disease.
Often referred to as “the silent thief of sight” glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve and can result irreversible vision loss and blindness, said The National Eye Institute. Glaucoma may be caused by abnormally high pressure in the eye, and is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, said the Mayo Clinic. Prevent Blindness, a volunteer based organization, stated that even though it is serious, life-long, and possibly leading to blindness if it isn’t controlled, most people don’t become blind, because glaucoma can be controlled through modern treatment options. Unfortunately, many people may not be aware of its treatability, or even understand the disease. A survey Prevent Blindness conducted in 2002 showed that blindness was the third greatest fear, after cancer and heart disease. But also showed:
- 50% of those surveyed had heard of glaucoma but weren’t sure what it was
- 30% had never heard of glaucoma
- 20% knew that glaucoma had to do with elevated pressure in the eye, but most mistakenly believed that glaucoma produced obvious symptoms, that it was easily cured, or that it did not lead to blindness
According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, Open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease, rarely exhibits any early side effects. As a result, 50% of people with glaucoma don’t even know they have the disease, hence the “silent thief”. Glaucoma can affect anyone and is more common in older adults. The Mayo Clinic prescribes regular eye exams as the best early detection. If you are over the age of 65 the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends glaucoma screenings every 2 years, while the Glaucoma Research Foundation suggests getting them every 6 to 12 months.
There is currently no cure for glaucoma, but with early detection there are various medications and treatments that can slow the disease’s progress and may prevent vision loss. Bono, U2 front man, explained to talk show host Graham Norton in 2014 that he has lived with glaucoma for [now over] 20 years. He noticed that objects and lights were accompanied by cloudiness and rings. It’s the reason he is usually seen wearing sunglasses. In the interview, Bono also assured fans that his glaucoma is being treated. Thank heaven for modern medicine!
This is why awareness of the disease is vital. We can use our knowledge to be proactive about our eye health and vision. The Glaucoma Research Foundation suggests regular moderate exercise like walking or jogging three or more times per week can help lower intraocular pressure, and also benefit overall health. Protective eyewear is another recommendation. Ultimately, the best form of prevention against glaucoma and other eye diseases is simple: regular comprehensive eye exams.
Overall, the key to success is to be mindful and in the moment. Be Active Be Well
DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that is intended to help the readers be better informed regarding exercise and health care. It is presented as general advice on health care. Always consult your doctor for your individual needs. Before beginning any new exercise program it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your personal physician. This article is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of a licensed physician. The reader should consult with their doctor in any matters relating to his/her health.