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As members of the Sandwich Generation caring for elderly parents and and helping with our grandchildren, we need all our wits, faculties, and body parts with us in good working order as much as possible. When I was laid up with a broken ankle for several weeks a few years ago, it impacted my senior mom and my grandkids almost as much as it did me. It was not a fun time!
Last month, after writing about Glaucoma Month, my eyes were giving me some grief. After one eye doctor visit and two Ophthalmologist visits, I am happy to report I am just fine. Just some floaters that need to be watched, but not serious. For a few days, though, I was doing a LOT of praying as I thought about all the different things that could be going wrong with my eyes. You know how a worried mind can operate. I was even thinking things like, "Will I have to learn Braille?" and "I'll have to learn how to use Dragon Dictation so I can keep working on the computer." (Did I mention I have a very vivid imagination! 🙂 )
Those silly thoughts are funny to me today, but last month, they were stark and serious. I remembered those moments when I read a letter from Diana today. She was writing to let us know that this week is World Glaucoma Week. She wrote, "Keeping your mind and body active and eating the right foods are important factors in ensuring a long and healthy life. But another factor to this equation is your eye health. Have you ever imagined what life would be like if you couldn’t see? What about if you could see, but images didn’t appear as they once did?" Scary thought, isn't it!
She also told me that, "John Patrick Shanley, Academy Award Winner for Best Screenplay for Moonstruck and playwright of Doubt, was diagnosed with advanced glaucoma twelve years ago and has experienced significant vision loss."
As he puts it, “Although glaucoma runs in my family, I took my sight for granted until I was faced with the harsh reality that I could go permanently blind from this condition,” Shanley says. “Fortunately my timely diagnosis and treatment has allowed me to live my life fully and to continue doing what I love.” Isn't that encouraging! You can hear Mr. Shanley's story and why he encourages everyone to receive regular eye exams for glaucoma. There is no "glaucoma cure," but, as Mr. Shanley pointed out, early diagnosis and treatment can stop further loss of vision.
There are no eye problem symptoms to watch for when it comes to glaucoma, so it's vital for all of us to be tested regularly. If we are at higher risk because we are over 40, are of African-American or Asian descent, have a family member who has it (some of the types of Glaucoma are on the list of hereditary eye diseases), or fit one of the other risk criteria, we should be even more proactive at taking preventive measures. That means me, and everyone else in the Baby Boomer Generation for starters, not to mention all of our elderly parents! I was encouraged to learn that in worst case scenarios, laser surgery for glaucoma can help stop eye pressure problems. But, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, "it cannot reverse vision loss."
With it being World Glaucoma Week, it's the perfect time to call your elderly parents, make a lunch and eye doctor date, and go have some yummies for the tummy, some great conversation, AND get everyone's eyes and eye pressure tested. Then mark your calendar for next year (or whenever your optometrist says) to make this a regular occurrence.
As for me, with my fun little floaters keeping me company, I'll be in to see my Ophthalmologist more often than normal, so I'm doing good as far as Glaucoma goes. But I'll also make sure my senior mom gets her eyes tested every year AND pass the info on to my adult kids to make sure they and my grandkids get checked, as glaucoma can even happen in children!
When did YOU last get your eyes checked? Don't forget now. 🙂 And don't forget to sign up for the FREE SandwichINK email for more news updates for Sandwich Generation senior home care givers and grandparents.