In traditional observance, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.
Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act adds the flying of the POW-MIA flag on all Federal and U.S. Military Installations on Memorial Day. The POW-MIA flag is to be half-staffed until noon along with the National flag.
Other traditional observances included wearing red poppies, visiting cemeteries and placing flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes, and visiting memorials.
Save your Eyesight
Every year, 50,000 Americans go blind, most from treatable or preventable eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. Yet just half of the 61 million Americans at high risk of losing their eyesight saw an eye doctor in the past 12 months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That’s partly because preventive eye exams are not covered by Medicare or most private insurance, says Peter J McDonnell, MD, director of the Wilmer Eye Institute at the John Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore. Not surprisingly, blindness is among Americans’ most-feared medical conditions, along with Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
“What’s sadder than working your whole life, getting ready to retire and developing something like macular degeneration, where you lose your central vision?” McDonnell says. “it’s a big issue.”
AARP spoke with McDonnell about what’s fueling the rise in eye diseases, steps we can take to protect our eyesight and new developments in the treatment of blindness.
Did you know: 75% of Americans have glasses or contacts
12 is the number of times you blink per minute
Percentage of color-blind Men: 8% Women: 0.5%
Q: By 2050, the number of Americans who are blind or visually impaired is expected to double to more than 8 million. What’s behind that trend? A: The two biggest drivers are the increase in the number of people with diabetes and the fact that we’re living much longer. Thirty years ago, it was pretty rare for us to see someone who was 80 years old. Now, we routinely see patients over 100. Back then, people would have developed these age-related eye diseases, but they didn’t live long enough.
Q: If you have diabetes, are you destined to get diabetic retinopathy? A: The better you control your diabetes, the less likely you are to have a problem. And if you do develop the abnormal blood vessels in your retina that are a hallmark of the disease, we can treat them with lasers or medications. Unfortunately, only about 20 to 30 percent of people who have diabetes get regular eye exams, and up to 24,000 Americans go blind each year from diabetic retinopathy.
Q: What else can people do to protect their eyesight as they get older? A: Eat a well-balanced diet, and don’t smoke. We think that the loss of vision that accompanies some eye disease such as age-related macular degeneration may be related to oxidative damage to the eye. People who eat plenty of green leafy vegetables and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables like blueberries and tomatoes might be better off. Plus, when you’re out in the sun, you want to wear UV-absorbing sunglasses and a hat with a brim. Smoking doubles your risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, so if you smoke, quit.
Q: Dry eye syndrome seems to be on the rise. Even Jennifer Aniston has been diagnosed with it. What’s going on? A: Dry eye happens when your eye doesn’t make enough tears, and it’s one of the most common eye problems affecting Americans. A lot of people convince themselves it’s normal to feel scratchiness or irritation in their eyes, or to think that it’s just part of getting older. But it’s not.
Q: What is the treatment? A: We now have two FDA-approved drugs to treat dry eye: cyclosporine (Restasis) and lifitegrast (Xiidra). Some people can benefit from corticosteroid eyedrops, but you only want to use those for a short period of time. We can also put a plug in your tear duct to make the tears that you do produce stay in your eye longer.
Q: Can you envision a time when no one in America would become blind? A: I’m counting on it! We have scientists who are growing retinas from stem cells, and as best as I can tell, it’s just a matter of time before we can implant those in people. We’ve also made progress on an artificial optic nerve, so if you can grow the retina and grow the artificial optic nerve that connects the retina back to the brain, hopefully you’re there.
(as written in AARP Magazine by Gabrielle DeGroot Redford)