By Mary Jane Dittmar
January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Eye Institute (NEI) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, reminds us of the seriousness and prevalence of this condition in a January 4 release. The full release is at /www.nih.gov/news/health/jan2012/nei-04.htm.
Following are some of the pertinent facts about this disease, which is a major cause of vision loss in the United States. Some 2.2 million Americans are affected by it. Early detection and treatment is the best way to prevent vision loss. NEI recommends that Americans at risk of glaucoma get a comprehensive dilated eye exam every one or two years. Some glaucoma facts include the following:
- Glaucoma is actually a group of diseases that damages the optic nerve (the bundle of nerve cells that relays visual information from the eye to the brain).
- Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma. Nerve damage results from an increase in pressure inside the eye, which increases when the fluid that circulates in and out of the front part of the eye drains too slowly.
- Glaucoma is usually painless, initially affects peripheral vision, and progresses slowly. That is the reason half of all people with glaucoma do not know they have it.
- If not adequately treated, glaucoma will eventually affect central vision and progress to blindness. Vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible.
Help spread the word: Early detection and treatment is the best way to prevent vision loss from glaucoma. For information about glaucoma research programs at NEI, visit www.nei.nih.gov. For more information about glaucoma, comprehensive dilated eye exams, and financial assistance available for eye care, visit www.nei.nih.gov/glaucoma.
NATIONAL HEART MONTH
February is American Heart Month, and February 4 is National Wear Red Day. Dr. Travis Stork, ER physician and co-host of the Emmy Award-winning talk television show "The Doctors," reminds us to be proactive in reducing the risk of heart disease by doing the following:
- Purchasing foods and beverages without added sugars and that are low in sodium.
- Drinking alcohol in moderation (one drink/day for women; two drinks/day for men).
- Watching portion sizes of ALL foods and eating a balanced diet.
- Cutting back on food high in cholesterol (goal of no more than 300 mg/day).
- Avoiding all tobacco products.
- Exercising on a regular basis.
Some tips for your proactive plan follow. Unless indicated, they are from Diabetes focus, Fall 2011.
Nutrition: Include in your diet apples, beets, cranberries and pomegranates. They are rich in antioxidants, which promote heart health, protect your body cells from damage, and reduce the risk of several types of cancer.
Pumpkin, carrots, squash (acorn, butternut, buttercup) and sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene to maintain eyesight.
Butter lettuce, beans, endive, and Swiss chard are high in the B vitamin folate. According to the NIH folate fact sheet, folate helps produce and maintain new cells, helps to prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer, and is also essential for the metabolism of the amino acid (a building block of protein), homocysteine, high levels of which may increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and Alzheimer's disease.
Cauliflower, garlic, ginger, pears, and turnips help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
“Instant Diet Makeovers.” Here are a few easy “switches” that can make you healthier, according to Diabetes focus:
Reducing Fat: One-half bagel instead of one-half muffin (1 g vs. 4 g; corn tortilla instead of taco shell (1 g vs. 6 g); spaghetti and marinara sauce instead of macaroni and cheese (2 g vs. 13 g).
Cutting Calories: Strawberries on angel food cake instead of strawberry ice cream (194 calories vs. 254); one-half coleslaw over macaroni salad (130 calories vs. 280).
Cutting Sodium: Swiss cheese instead of American cheese (25 mg vs. 300 mg); one-half cup of plain instant oats instead one-half cup of flavored instant oats (0 mg vs. 300 mg); 1 Tbsp. no-salt-added ketchup instead of 1 Tbsp. regular ketchup (0 mg vs. 190 mg).
Sweets: 16-oz. fat-free cappuccino instead of coffee frappe (14 g vs. 52g/100 calories vs. 260); 1 cake-type doughnut vs. glazed doughnut (21.4 vs. 30.4 g/ 100 calories vs. 239); five chocolate kisses instead of 2 “fun size” chocolate candy bars (12.2 g vs. 19.8 g;/105 calories vs. 151).
Photos courtesy of www.photos8.com.
Mary Jane Dittmar is senior associate editor of Fire Engineering and conference manager of FDIC. Before joining the magazine in January 1991, she served as editor of a trade magazine in the health/nutrition market and held various positions in the educational and medical advertising fields. She has a bachelor’s degree in English/journalism and a master’s degree in communication arts.