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April 15, 2021

Did you know that statistically women suffer from eye disease and impaired vision more than men? Women also face a higher risk of blindness, too. These known statistics should remind women to make eye health a top priority. In fact Prevent Blindness America designates April as National Women's Eye Health and Safety Month, dedicated to spreading awareness of various eye health issues facing women around the world.

There may be an explanation for why women suffer from eye disease and blindness more than men. Here are some possible reasons:

Age. According to the World Health Organization’s World Report on Vision, women, on average, live longer than men, and are thus at greater risk of developing eye conditions associated with aging. However, even after controlling for age, global estimates suggest that women with moderate and severe presenting distance vision impairment outnumber men by approximately 7 percent.

Pregnancy. Carrying a child takes a toll on the entire body and increases their risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and migraine headaches. These conditions can put excess strain on the blood vessels of the eyes. Being pregnant can cause dry eye, puffy eyelids and even refractive changes in the eyesight, which can be temporary or permanent.

Menopause. According to the National Eye Institute, more than 3 million women have dry eye, compared to only 1.5 million men. Dry eye is a common condition for women who experience premature menopause and after menopause and are more likely to be affected by it. If left untreated, chronic dry eye may lead to eye inflammation, abrasion of the corneal surface, corneal ulcers and vision loss.

Nutrition. Because women’s bodies go through so many changes during pregnancy and menopause, they can become deficient in vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends adding powerful vitamins, antioxidants and minerals to your diet can improve your vision and overall eye health. Researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc, to reducing the risk of certain serious eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

Autoimmunity. In general, women are more susceptible to autoimmune diseases than men, solely due to women having two X chromosomes, whereas men possess only one. Many of these diseases can affect vision, such as lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome and hypothyroidism.

Prevention and Care

  • Schedule a comprehensive eye exam. Anyone with symptoms or a family history of eye disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure should see an ophthalmologist to determine how frequently your eyes should be examined.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet including fruits, vegetables, fiber, and whole grains.
  • Get regular exercise and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Wear UV protected sunglasses throughout the year, not just during the summer months.
  • Throw away old makeup and never share cosmetics with others, as bacteria can grow fast in liquid makeup.
  • Give your eyes a break with the 20-20-20 rule. Set a timer to remind you to look away every 20 minutes at an object that is about 20 feet away for a full 20 seconds.
  • Wear protective eyewear while gardening, performing yard work, operating power tools, cleaning with chemicals, or when playing sports.
  • DO NOT smoke. Smoking is linked developing age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts and can damage the optic nerve.

It is very important that women make vision health a priority. A comprehensive dilated eye exam is a painless procedure in which an eye care professional examines your eyes to look for common vision problems and eye diseases, many of which have no early warning signs. Contact us to schedule your appointment or if you have any questions about your vision.


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