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Saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen Suffers Stroke

Anyone who knows me,  knows that I am a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Growing up in New Jersey, how could I not be? I have been listening to his music since the early 1980's, seen him hundreds of times in concert and even been fortunate enough to meet him a time or two "out in the street." Bruce and his band have been such an important part of my entire life that they almost feel like family to me. I don't think I have to tell anyone how completely devastated I was when rumors started flooding the Internet Sunday evening that one of Bruce's own was critically ill due to the effects of a massive stroke. When I learned it was Bruce's saxophone player, Clarence Clemons, my heart just sank. "No, not the Big Man!" (a nickname Bruce affectionately gave him many years ago) I thought to myself.  How could a stroke bring down this big teddy bear of a man, who plays the sax like no one I ever heard before. You can actually HEAR how much he loves to play in every note. Just ask Lady Gaga, who asked Clarence to play sax for her new hit song "The Edge of Glory". They also appeared together on the American Idol finale a few weeks ago. Strokes can be devastating, often leaving people completely paralyzed on an entire side of their body, but did you know that your eyes can also have a stroke? Central Retinal Artery Occlusion (CRAO)  is considered to be a "stroke" of the eye.  This stroke is actually a blood clot, from the carotid artery (in the neck) or from the heart, breaking free and lodging itself in an artery in the retina.  This blockage deprives the retina of nutrients and oxygen that are normally carried through the bloodstream. Eye strokes are usually sudden and painless and cause dramatic vision loss in one eye.    Patients suffering from CRAO can often barely count fingers in front of their face or see light from the effected eye. Certain medical conditions can make a person prone to these types of strokes.  Patients who have a medical history of high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiac valvular disease, and carotid artery disease are at particularly high risk.  Annual ophthalmological exams, including an extensive retinal evaluation, should become routine for people having these risk factors. Early detection is key, so if you or someone you know suffers from sudden, unexplained, severe loss of vision, call your ophthalmologist or your primary care physician immediately. On a personal note to the Big Man:   I will always wait for you, Clarence.  Get well soon, my friend. Mary Sweetman C.O.A. Certified Ophthalmic Assistant

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