More women are at greater risk for vision loss from certain eye diseases than men, study finds.
New data from a Prevent Blindness study says that women make up the majority of the 4.4 million Americans age 40 and older who are visually impaired or blind. In light of that, Prevent Blindness says the following are five things women should know about their vision and eye health:
- More women than men are at risk for vision loss from eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. According to the National Eye Institute, more than 3 million women and more than 1.5 million men have dry eye. Dry eye is more common after menopause, and women who experience menopause prematurely are more likely to have eye surface damage from dry eye.
- More women are caregivers, and as such women often make the majority of their family’s health care decisions. In addition to being responsible for their own health, women are often responsible as caregivers for the health care choices of their children, partners, spouses and aging parents. A woman making her vision health a priority positively impacts those around her, including those that depend on her care.
- Keeping a healthy lifestyle also helps keep the eyes healthy, including exercising regularly, not smoking and following a healthy diet. Talk to a dietician about eating habits and a doctor before starting an exercise program. Make sure to always wear UV eye protection when outdoors.
- Pregnancy can cause vision changes including refractive changes, dry eyes and puffy eyelids. Expectant mothers may also experience vision effects from migraine headaches, diabetes and high blood pressure. Glaucoma medications such as carbonic anhydrase inhibitors can be harmful to the developing baby. All pregnant women should discuss all medications and any changes in their vision immediately with their doctor.
- Prevent Blindness recommends periodic dilated eye exams as the best way to ensure that vision is healthy and to help keep it that way. Additionally, a dilated eye exam can also help detect other conditions that affect overall health including high blood pressure or diabetes.
Prevent Blindness created the program, “See Jane See: Women’s Healthy Eyes Now,” to provide free education and resources on these topics to help women better understand vision issues that are unique to them. You can check out the program here.