Glaucoma Awareness: What You Need to Know

glaucoma awareness

There are several types of eye disorders that are referred to as glaucoma. However, they all cause vision loss in the same way. The disorder occurs due to the buildup of fluid around the front of the eye.  This buildup causes pressure that damages the eye’s optic nerve and can result in eventual blindness.

Fortunately, there are ways to treat glaucoma, which is why generating awareness is so important. January was designated National Glaucoma Awareness Month.

Why Is Glaucoma Awareness So Important?

Glaucoma can lead to permanent blindness. In fact, it’s the leading cause of blindness in people over 60 years old. There is no cure.

It’s vital that you catch glaucoma in the beginning stages if you have it. One of the reasons why it can be successfully treated before permanent blindness sets in is because glaucoma only affects one eye at first. Although you can’t restore lost vision, there are medications, surgeries, and laser treatments available that can help by slowing down the progression of glaucoma.

Diagnosing the condition in its beginning stages can help prevent you from going blind.

What Are the Signs of Glaucoma?

There are two kinds of glaucoma: open-angle and acute angle-closure. Open-angle glaucoma symptoms include blind spots and tunnel vision. 

Acute angle-closure glaucoma has many symptoms, including:

  • Blurred vision
  • Eye pain
  • Eye redness
  • Headaches
  • Light halos
  • Nausea

If you begin experiencing any of these symptoms regularly, you must go to an eye doctor right away for an eye exam. The sooner your glaucoma can be diagnosed, the sooner it can be treated. Not all cases of glaucoma result in symptoms right away, which is why you should schedule a regular checkup with your eye doctor in Southern California as you grow older.

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

Increasing glaucoma awareness is critical to making sure people maintain their eyesight, especially as they grow older. Be aware of glaucoma symptoms and schedule regular visits to the eye doctor.

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Why Glaucoma Awareness is Important

It’s a silent disease

Open-angle glaucoma, the most common type, has no symptoms. Without treatment, those affected will slowly lose their peripheral vision. As glaucoma remains untreated, people may miss objects to the side and out of the corner of their eye.

It gives others a voice

National Glaucoma Awareness Month helps patients cope. It’s a time to let them share their stories.

It’s important to spread the word

The main objective of this month is to keep people in the know about this disease. Not everyone is aware of how easily they can be affected. Eye care organizations use this month to address the risks and provide treatment tips.

Glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the United States. Glaucoma has no early symptoms — that’s why half of people with glaucoma don’t know they have it. 

The only way to find out if you have glaucoma is to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam. There’s no cure for glaucoma, but early treatment can often stop the damage and protect your vision.   

Anyone can get glaucoma, but those at higher risk include: 

  • Everyone over age 60, especially Hispanics/Latinos 
  • African Americans over age 40 
  • People with a family history of glaucoma 

Join the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) in encouraging people at higher risk for glaucoma to make eye health a New Year’s resolution by getting a dilated eye exam. 

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Birth Defects Awareness

Birth defects are health conditions that are present at birth. Birth defects change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. They can cause problems in overall health, how the body develops, or in how the body works.

There are thousands of different birth defects. About 120,000 babies in the United States are born each year with a birth defect. The most common birth defects are heart defects, cleft lip and cleft palate, Down syndrome and spina bifida. While there’s been lots of research, we still don’t know the causes of some birth defects.

Some birth defects are caused by genetic conditions. Genetic conditions are passed from parents to children through genes. The baby could get something from his mother, his father, or both parents that can cause a birth defect.

Saving babies through birth defects prevention and research

Every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born with a major birth defect in the United States. That’s 1 in 33 babies. Birth defects are structural changes in one or more parts of the body that are present at birth. Examples include heart defects, neural tube defects, microcephaly, and gastroschisis.

  • 1 in 10 pregnant women report using alcohol during the past 30 days, and 9 in 10 women report using one or more medications in pregnancy, despite the fact that we lack sufficient evidence on safety for 9 out of 10 medications.
  • The majority of the world’s population today is not covered through folic acid fortification and efforts to implement fortification in lower-resourced countries face complex obstacles.

Popular diet could increase risk of birth defects

New research demonstrates that consuming a low-carbohydrate diet during pregnancy may increase the risk of certain birth defects by 30 percent.

A new study finds a link between low-carb diets and birth defects.

Neural tube defects (NTDs) are malformations of the brain, spine, and spinal cord. They develop before birth and include spina bifida, wherein the spinal column does not close completely, and anencephaly, wherein large portions of brain and skull are missing.

Research carried out over decades conclusively demonstrated that folic acid can reduce the risk of babies being born with NTDs.

As soon as the fortification began, cases of birth defects plummeted. Adding folic acid to food prevents more than 1,300 NTDTrusted Source cases each year in the United States.

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January is National Blood and Organ Donor Month!

Why Give Blood?

You don’t need a special reason to give blood. You just need your own reason.

  • Some of us give blood because we were asked by a friend.
  • Some know that a family member or a friend might need blood some day.
  • Some believe it is the right thing to do.
  • Some do it for the free cookies and juice.

Can I Give Blood?

General Guidelines for Blood Donation

  • Be in good general health and feeling well.
  • Be at least 17 years old in most states (16 years old with parental consent in some states).
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds. Additional weight requirements apply for donors 18 years old and younger and all high school donors.
  • Have not donated blood in the last 56 days.

Ten Frequently Asked Questions about Organ Donation:

In an effort to demystify the organ and tissue donation process and encourage more Americans to become donors, the National Kidney Foundation provides answers to ten of the most often asked questions about organ and tissue donation.

  1. Are organ and tissue transplants experimental?
    Medication and medical advances have resulted in transplant surgeries today that are very successful, in fact as high as 95 percent. The transplantation of vital organs has become routine surgical operation and is no longer experimental.
  2. How are organs and tissues for transplantation obtained?
    Many organ and tissues are donated by individuals at the time of their death. Others are donated by living donors.
  3. How are organs from deceased donors distributed?
    Generally, donated organs are matched with individuals on an organ waiting list. Matching is based on a variety of factors including blood and tissue types, medical need, length of time on the waiting list and weight of donor and recipient.
  4. Who can become an organ or tissue donor?
    People of all different ages are able to donate. It is essential that anyone who wants to be a donor expresses this wish to others in the family. For more information about becoming an organ and tissue donor, click here.
  5. Do I have to register as an organ and tissue donor with any hospital or national registry?
    There are different ways to identify yourself as an organ donor.

    For deceased donation: if an online registry is available in your state, you can sign up for that. (You can also designate your wishes on your driver’s license or sign a donor card, but the online registry is the best method to use). It is extremely important to discuss your decision with your loved ones, because they will be asked to sign a consent form at the time of the donation.

    For living donation: you need to work with the recipient’s hospital to be tested as a donor. If you are considering donation to anyone who needs it, and don’t have a recipient in mind, you need to work with a hospital in your area.
  6. What if organ and tissue donation is against my religion?
    Religious leaders of most denominations throughout the world favor organ and tissue donation and consider it the greatest humanitarian act. If you are concerned, check with your religious leader.
  7. Will being a declared organ donor (to donate after my death) affect the care I receive in a hospital?
    Organ and tissue donation is not even considered until all possible efforts to save a person’s life have been exhausted.
  8. Which organs and tissues can be donated after death?
    Kidneys, lungs, corneas, livers, pancreases, heart valves, bones, tendons, skin and bone marrow can all be transplanted. If desired, a donor can specify on a donor card which organs and tissues are to be donated.
  9. Do I have to pay to be an organ and tissue donor after death?
    Donors and their families do not pay for any expenses associated with organ and tissue donation.
  10. Does organ and tissue donation after death cause any disfigurement to the donor?
    Organ removal is a sterile surgical procedure wherein the body remains totally intact. Open casket funerals are still possible if so desired.

Your Health and Safety Matter!

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Frequently Asked Influenza (Flu) Questions: 2021-2022 Season

What’s New for 2021-2022

Most people who get flu will recover on their own in a few days to two weeks, but some people will experience severe complications, requiring hospitalization. Secondary bacterial infections are more common with influenza than with COVID-19.

A few things are different for the 2021-2022 influenza (flu) season, including:

  • The composition of flu vaccines has been updated.
  • All flu vaccines will be quadrivalent (four component), meaning designed to protect against four different flu viruses. For more information: Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine | CDC.
  • Flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time.
  • More detailed guidance about the recommended timing of flu vaccination for some groups of people is available.

It’s best to be vaccinated before flu begins spreading in your community. September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated against flu. Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October. However, even if you are not able to get vaccinated until November or later, vaccination is still recommended because flu most commonly peaks in February and significant activity can continue into May.

What is the difference between Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19?

  • Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a coronavirus first identified in 2019, and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.
  • COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu. However, as more people become fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 should slow down. More information is available about COVID-19 vaccines and how well they work.
  • Compared to flu, COVID-19 can cause more serious illnesses in some people. COVID-19 can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer. More information about differences between flu and COVID-19 is available in the different sections below.
  • Because some of the symptoms of flu, COVID-19, and other respiratory illnesses are similar, the difference between them cannot be made based on symptoms alone. Testing is needed to tell what the illness is and to confirm a diagnosis. People can be infected with both flu and the virus that causes COVID-19 at the same time and have symptoms of both influenza and COVID-19.
  • While more is learned every day about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it, there are still things, such as post-COVID conditions, that are unknown. This page compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best available information to date.

Similarities:

Both COVID-19 and Flu can result in complications, including:

  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory failure
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (fluid in the lungs)
  • Sepsis (a life-threatening illness caused by the body’s extreme response to an infection)
  • Cardiac injury (for example, heart attacks and stroke)
  • Multiple-organ failure (respiratory failure, kidney failure, shock)
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions (involving the lungs, heart, or nervous system or diabetes)
  • Inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscle tissues
  • Secondary infections (bacterial or fungal infections that can occur in people who have already been infected with flu or COVID-19)

Your Health and Safety Matters!

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