Glaucoma is claiming the eyesight of many Americans.
The eye disease affects more than two million Americans aged 40 and older.
In recognition of Glaucoma Awareness Month in January, health officials are encouraging people to know their risk factors and get routine eye exams in order to save their sight.
The National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health has reported a steady rise in glaucoma among the African American community. More than 520,000 African Americans have glaucoma, and the NEI projects this number will rise to approximately 865,000 cases by 2030, a 66 percent increase.
African Americans have the highest prevalence of glaucoma among minority groups. Last year, NEI invested $71 million on a wide range of studies to understand causes and potential areas of treatment for glaucoma.
“Studies show that at least half of all persons with glaucoma don’t know they have this potentially blinding eye disease,” said NEI director Dr. Paul Sieving.
“The good news is that glaucoma can be detected in its early stages through a comprehensive dilated eye exam. NEI encourages all people at higher risk of glaucoma—African Americans age 40 or older; everyone age 60, especially Mexican Americans; and those with a family history—to get a dilated eye exam every one to two years, because early detection and timely treatment may save your sight.”
Patients with glaucoma may have elevated levels of eye pressure due to deficient flow of the eye’s fluid. Over time, this increased eye pressure damages the optic nerve, which is responsible for sending signals from the retina to the brain. Glaucoma patients typically lose their peripheral vision first, then develop blind spots and eventually go blind without proper treatment.
Most vision loss from glaucoma can be prevented with early detection, physician intervention and a regimen of daily, medicated eye drops.
With ongoing care, we can significantly slow glaucoma’s progression, and minimize vision loss for our patients,” said Dr. Joanna Fisher, the Pennsylvania Academy of Ophthalmology (PAO) Secretary of Public and Professional Information.
“The trick is to catch and treat glaucoma as early as possible, and take your medication as prescribed by your ophthalmologist because once vision is lost to glaucoma, it cannot be restored.”
According to the PAO, African Americans, Hispanics and those who have a family history of glaucoma are at greater risk for developing glaucoma and should closely monitor their eye health. Other risk factors include aging, nearsightedness, farsightedness, previous eye injuries, steroid use, and health conditions such as migraines, diabetes, and low blood pressure.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people with any of these risk factors visit an ophthalmologist — an eye medical doctor — to get a comprehensive eye exam, learn more about their specific risks, and find out how often they will need checkups. Those with no eye disease symptoms or risk factors should get a baseline screening at age 40, when signs of eye disease and vision changes may start to occur.
During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, drops are placed in the eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupils. This allows the eye care professional to see inside the eye and examine the optic nerve for signs of glaucoma and other vision problems. A test for eye pressure alone is not enough to detect glaucoma.
“It’s very important that people don’t wait until they notice a problem with their vision to have an eye exam,” said Dr. James Tsai, chair of the Glaucoma Subcommittee for the NEI National Eye Health Education Program.
People who have Medicare, are African American age 50 or older, or have a family history of glaucoma, may be eligible for a low-cost, comprehensive dilated eye exam through the glaucoma benefit.
Services will be held January 9 for Michael E. Welch.
Welch died Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, in Lansdowne. He was 54.
Welch was born June 5, 1958, in Camden, N.J., to the late Ernest William Welch Jr. and Velma Moore. He was educated in the schools of New Jersey and graduated from Williamstown High School.
At the time of his death, Welch was employed by Barry Callebut as a load out technician.
“Although he only worked there for a short while, he had great impact on the people with whom he worked,” his family said.
He married Lisa D. Goodwin on Oct, 14, 2008.
Welch believed in God and was spiritually uplifted through the Baptist religion.
His family said he will be remembered as a “well-versed, hard-working” man.
“He wouldn’t let anything defeat him,” his family said.
“He had a quiet strength that was felt through the lives of whom he touched.”
According to his family, Welch loved to talk with his elders, especially his in-laws. He loved to hear their perspective.
“He had a keen sense of humor, was jovial and extremely funny,” his family said.
He was skilled in the masonry trade. He was a self-taught auto mechanic who was great with cars.
Welch loved football and was diehard Redskins Fan. He loved to travel. As a young adult, he was a boxing athlete.
He was preceded in death by his siblings, Arnetta, Velina, Lamar Aaron, Ernest William III and Thomas.
In addition to his wife, Welch is survived by his mother and father-in-law, Gerald V. and Delores Goodwin; sisters, Rebecca Welch of N.J., Charmaine Green of Florida, Claudia Brown and Maeceon Ore of N.J.; brothers-in-law, Gerald L. Goodwin, Raymond Brown and Joseph Williams; sister-in-law, Valerie Williams; daughters, Theresa, Tyanna, Tureaca, Tahmia and Caitlin Welch; grandchildren, Hayley Welch and Xavier Micheal Welch; aunts, Frances, Pearl and Genetha; uncle, Moses; fourteen nieces, four nephews and other relatives and friends.
Services will be held January 9 at White Rock Baptist Church, 5420 Chestnut Street. Viewing will be held at 9 a.m. Services will follow at 11 a.m. Burial is private
Ivan M. Kemble Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
John L. Brown, also known as “Lacy,” was employed with the Philadelphia Electric Company for 38 years.
Brown died Dec. 24, 2012. He was 81.
He was born July 28, 1931.
He was educated in the Philadelphia public school system. As a native of South Philadelphia, Brown attended Chester Author Elementary, Barrett Junior High and South Philadelphia High School. After graduating high school, he received an athletic scholarship for basketball to attend Tillotson College in Austin, Texas.
Brown’s family said he was recognized as one of PECO’s first Black meter readers in Philadelphia. Prior to retiring from PECO in 1991, Brown was a general supervisor, overseeing meter readers and collectors.
It was at South Philadelphia High School where he met the “love of his life,” Beulah L. Burwell. The couple married on March 13, 1951.
Brown liked cooking, eating, attending Temple basketball games, reading, jazz, wine and sitting outside on the front steps.
Upon learning his cancer had returned after 32 years, Brown said he had no regrets, as he lived a full life.
In addition to his wife, Brown is survived by his children: John “Skip” (Alita), Royal “Gene,” Thelma Wright, Elizabeth, Maria, and Robert; an adopted son, Paul Barksdale (Pam); grandchildren, John, Kim, Brian (Wynesha), Erin, Ineeta, Jonathan, Jackiem, Jessica (Oscar), Lacy, Eugena, Royal-Loren, Taniqua, Imani, Robin and Damien; 11 great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandchild and other relatives and friends.
Services will be held January 5 at St. Charles Borromeo Church, 20th and Christian streets. Viewing is at 8 a.m. Services will follow at 10 a.m. Burial is in Ivy Hill Cemetery.
Vivian J. Gordon was a travel consultant and wife of retired Common Pleas Court Judge Levan Gordon.
She died Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, at Abington Memorial Hospital after a brief illness. She was 76.
She was born May 29, 1936, in Philadelphia to Kinard and Elizabeth Goode. She attended public schools and graduated from Dobbins Vocational Technical High School in 1953.
After graduating from Dobbins, she worked for the city of Philadelphia, where she was employed for 35 years. During her tenure, she worked in the Health, Licenses and Inspections and Law departments.
Gordon later earned an associate’s degree from Temple University.
She married Levan Gordon on Dec. 23, 1956. The couple had a daughter, Shari-lyn Lisa.
After she retired from the city of Philadelphia in 1988, Gordon became a travel consultant who was regarded as a cruise expert. She worked for several travel agencies. At the time of her death, she was employed with Rubinsohn Travel.
Gordon and her husband traveled the world together. She went on more than 60 cruises and traveled with her husband to four world track and field championships.
She was a 70-year member of the Emmanuel Institutional Baptist Church, where she served on numerous committees and ministries, often in leadership roles.
Gordon served as president of the Ladies of Alpha, an auxiliary of her husband’s fraternity. At the time of her election, she was the youngest person to hold that office. She was also president of the Philadelphia Area Lawyers’ Wives.
In addition to her husband and daughter, Gordon is also survived by a granddaughter, sister, brother, two sisters-in-law, several nieces and nephews and other relatives and friends.
A memorial service will be held Jan. 19 at the Emmanuel Institutional Baptist Church, 1730 N. 22nd St.
North Philadelphia residents now have access to a newly expanded fitness center at the Columbia North YMCA.
YMCA officials cut the ribbon Friday morning on the newly expanded 2,400 square foot center featuring state-of-the-art exercise equipment.
“The significance of this day is that it unveils the first part of a $1 million private capital investment into this community,” Freedom Valley YMCA President John Flynn said during the ribbon cutting event, held at 1400 North Broad St.
“The YMCA is committed to North Philadelphia. It shows it in dollars and cents as well as the application of resources of the great people that make up this YMCA.”
In addition to enhancing the fitness center, the Y invested in other facility upgrades. The new renovations mark another milestone for the Columbia North YMCA in providing programs and services to the community.
The renovations were bolstered by a financial contribution by James Ksansnak and his wife Suzanne. Ksansnak was a former chairman of Tasty Baking Company and vice chairman of ARAMARK Corporation.
“Strong lives build strong families, strong families build strong communities and strong communities build strong cities. If we are successful with our work we’re going to make Philadelphia a great place to be,” said Roger Jackson, the new executive director of the Columbia North YMCA.
Jackson said due the renovations, the Y now has space to offer programming such as nights, job fairs and sessions on resume writing.
“We really want to encourage the community to view this as the hub,” said Jackson, who joined the Columbia North’s leadership team in August.
“Years ago when YMCA’s were created, they were the hub of the community — and that’s what we want to get Columbia North back to being. I was a program director here 20 years ago and that’s what we were back then.”
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, State Sen. Shirley Kitchen and Solomon Jones, community outreach director for Congressman Chaka Fattah, joined YMCA officials at the ribbon cutting event.
“I’m very glad to be here because I recognize the beacon of hope that the YMCA is here at Broad and Master and what it represents to those who live here in North Philadelphia,” said Williams.
“I recognize that George Williams founded the YMCA in London to help out inner city children — to serve their minds and bodies and spirit and to give them something positive in the city.”
During the event, YMCA member Evelyn Deaton described how joining the Y has been a life-changing experience. Since she joined in March 2012, she’s comes at least three times a week. During her visits, she participates in a core building fitness class and swims in the pool.
“I can say that it’s been nothing but life changing. I can do things that I wasn’t able to do when I first came,” she said noting that she now does jumping jacks and has gradually been able to use some of the exercise equipment.
“The Y has provided me with a place to come and exercise and enjoy myself. It’s been a real positive experience,” said Deaton.
The Columbia North YMCA serves North Philadelphia, Fairmount, Kensington, Northern Liberties, Brewerytown and the surrounding communities. The Y offers a range of programs for children and teens including swim lessons, fitness classes and day camps. The Y features personal training, exercise classes, wellness sessions and babysitting services for adults.
The Columbia North Y is a part of the Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA network that serves more than 90,000 members and 140,000 individuals throughout the Delaware Valley.