January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, which is important, considering that glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness across the globe. It is estimated that over 3 million people are living with glaucoma here in the United States, although many may not even realize that they have it.
Glaucoma is actually an umbrella term for a group of eye conditions that can lead to a buildup of pressure behind the eye. The pressure can then damage the optic nerve, resulting in loss of vision and even blindness.
Learning more about glaucoma symptoms is essential given the fact that there is not yet a known cure for the disease, although worsening of symptoms may be avoided with early intervention. While there are greater risks of developing glaucoma for people over the age of 60, it can affect everyone—including celebrities.
Here are a few of our favorite celebs living with glaucoma:
The U2 frontman is well-known for both his vocal abilities and his signature tinted sunglasses. While it may seem like a fashion statement, Bono actually wears the glasses because he was diagnosed with glaucoma nearly 20 years ago.
While glaucoma symptoms can be hard to detect at first, peripheral vision loss is the first sign that something might be wrong. And without a proper diagnosis and intervention, vision loss will continue to work its way from the outer part of the eye inward, giving you the impression of seeing things “through a tunnel.” Perhaps that is part of the reason why Bono has chosen to keep his glasses on while facing the bright lights and flashing bulbs of his adoring fans.
Comedienne and host of “The View,” Goldberg is also living with glaucoma. Goldberg has also been an outspoken proponent of using medical marijuana as part of her treatment for angle-closure glaucoma, a common type of glaucoma in African-Americans.
Glaucoma symptoms for this type of condition include headaches, intense pain and nausea—all of which have proven to be relieved through the use of medical marijuana. Additional treatments for angle-closure glaucoma include laser surgery and medicinal eye drops to be prescribed by an eye care professional.
Barr, famous for starring in her namesake TV show, “Roseanne,” on ABC during the 1990s, has recently revealed that she is going blind. Struggling with both macular degeneration and glaucoma, Barr has admitted that there may be a genetic link to her eye conditions, telling People magazine that her Dad had it too.
Aside from genetics, other risk factors for glaucoma include people over the age of 60, diabetics, and anyone who has a history of being extremely nearsighted. In order to provide early intervention for glaucoma treatment, it’s important to schedule regular appointments with an eye doctor who can run different tests to detect glaucoma, including a visual acuity test, a visual field test, a dilated eye exam, tonometry (to measure the pressure behind your eye), and pachymetry (to measure the thickness of your cornea).
Bocelli, perhaps one of the most famous opera singers in the world, was born with congenital glaucoma and went completely blind at age 12. In a strange last-ditch effort, doctors used leeches as a glaucoma treatment to try and restore his eyesight. They were unsuccessful in their attempts; however, Bocelli went on to have a successful music career without needing the use of his eyes.
Glaucoma treatments that have been proven to work more effectively include eye drops or pills, laser trabeculoplasty which helps to drain fluid from the eye, and traditional surgery which creates a new opening in the eye in order to drain fluid and relieve pressure.
Care for Your Eyes
If you think you may be at risk for glaucoma or have been struggling with vision loss, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor immediately. Glaucoma Awareness Month is a reminder that none of us are immune to vision loss and it’s imperative to remain proactive about your eye health in order to maintain your vision.
Hilary Young is a writer dedicated to helping older Americans live healthier, more fulfilling lives. She currently blogs for HuffPost50, Fifty Is The New Fifty and Medical Guardian. You can find her on Twitter as @hyoungcreative.