6 Celebrities Affected by Glaucoma

May 19th, 2020
celebrities with glaucoma

Some well-known names are among the 3 million Americans suffering from this sight-robbing disease.

Roughly 3 million people in the U.S. suffer from glaucoma, with the majority of the cases seen in individuals over the age of 40, according to the research group BrightFocus Foundation. That number is expected to soar to 4.3 million by 2032 and 5.5 million by 2050, Prevent Blindness estimates, as the older population in the U.S. grows.

Glaucoma, also known as the “thief of sight,” slowly robs people of their vision. The disease is caused by a buildup of fluids within the eye that raises its intraocular pressure (IOP) above normal. The increased pressure damages the optic nerve and, if not diagnosed and treated early, could lead to blindness. In the beginning stages, many people are unaware of the disease, with the first signs a loss of peripheral sight that appears as “tunnel vision.”

Given the sheer numbers of people with glaucoma, it shouldn’t be shocking that glaucoma strikes people from all walks of life, celebrities and non-celebrities alike. Several well-known names have gone public with their battle with glaucoma in the hopes of raising awareness of the disease.

6 Celebrities Affected by Glaucoma

Although glaucoma typically affects older people, the disease can occur at a younger age. Here are six celebrities who have dealt with or continue to deal with this sight-destroying disease.

Bono. Known for his music, philanthropy and political activism, U2 lead singer Bono revealed in 2014 that he suffers from glaucoma and continues to receive treatment. Because harsh lights can be painful to his eyes, Bono wears shades on stage to protect his vision. If you have glaucoma and want to cut down on glare, choose a pair that filters out 99 percent to 100 percent of UV rays and wraps around your temples.

Whoopi Goldberg. The comedian and talk show co-host also revealed in 2014 she suffers from glaucoma and still uses various treatments to ease her symptoms (glaucoma can headaches, redness, blurry vision, and nausea). 

John Glenn. The late senator and astronaut first flew into space in 1962. But at age 77 in 1998, he took to the skies again when he rocketed on the space shuttle, making him the oldest person to fly into space. His journey was made possible by early detection and treatment for glaucoma. He became an advocate for glaucoma testing, which is recommended every one to two years for people over age 65.

Kirby Puckett. The late Hall of Fame baseball star noticed he couldn’t see out of one eye in 1996 — it turned out he had glaucoma. Like many glaucoma patients, Puckett’s symptoms did not become pronounced until an advanced stage. Puckett, who played in two World Series in the late 1980s and early 1990s, retired from the game soon after his diagnosis.

Andrea Bocelli. The Italian opera singer was born with congenital glaucoma and eventually went totally blind in his early teens. Congenital glaucoma is rare, but is characterized by a cloudy cornea, excessive tearing, and sensitivity to light. This condition is inherited, so if your family has a history of glaucoma or other eye disorders, you should get regular vision checkups.

Ray Charles. Like Bocelli, the late singer and songwriter suffered blindness at a young age, believed to be due to glaucoma. Ray’s story underscores the importance of early testing and intervention. Treatments that range from eye drops and surgery that reduce pressure in the eye could have saved his eyesight.

Is it Time for a Vision Check?

The doctors at Swagel Wootton Eye Institute have helped many patients overcome eye diseases, such as glaucoma and cataracts. We perform comprehensive eye exams and offer the latest in treatments to ensure your eye health for many years to come. Contact us today at our Mesa and Chandler locations for an appointment.