Did you know that blindness affects women more than men? The National Institutes of Health reports that 2/3rds of the people with blindness or visual impairments are women. Often, hormones, and especially life changes such as pregnancy and menopause, cause changes in women’s eyes. Preventing blindness and vision problems requires keeping a healthy lifestyle, avoiding certain habits, and seeing the eye doctor regularly. April is Women’s Eye Health month. Find out why Women’s Eye Health month is important and how you can protect your vision through the years!
Did you know that women have a greater chance at developing certain eye diseases compared to men? According to Women’s Eye Health.org, women develop blindness and have visual impairments twice as much as men. This means that 2/3rds of people with blindness and vision problems are women. Hormones play a major part in why this happens, as women have different hormones that affect them that men simply don’t have. Studies show that women also tend to live longer than men, giving them more years to develop eye problems.
Many women aren’t aware that they have a higher risk for developing eye and vision problems. That is why the actual Women’s Eye Health organization was formed and why April is Women’s Eye Health month. This is a month where the National Eye Institute and many other organizations work harder to make people—especially women—more knowledgeable about their eye health. If more people know how eye diseases and vision problems happen, they will take more action to protect their eyesight.
Why are there more eye problems in women? As we mentioned, hormones play a factor in developing eye problems, but so does lifestyle, genetics, pregnancy and more. Women pass through several body and hormone changes that men do not. Pregnancy causes changes in the eyes such as dry eyes, puffiness, migraine headaches that affect vision, light sensitivity and more. If a women is not pregnant, even taking birth control can cause hormonal changes and blood clots in some cases. If a clot happens, that can lead to strokes that affect vision, sometimes permanently.
Later in life, eye problems become more frequent in both men and women. However, women statistically have a higher chance in developing chronic conditions such as lupus, arthritis, MS and more. All of these affect eye health.
The NEI last reported statistics about vision impairment based on age, gender and race in a 2010 consensus. In that study, researchers found that 64% of women were visually impaired compared to 36% of men. Prevent Blindness America—the organization to first institute April as Women’s Eye Health month—urges women to take action to prevent blindness in their futures. Their study found that out of 4.1 million Americans over 40 with vision problems and blindness, 2.6 of those people were women. Studies every 10 years also show that there is a steady increase in the amount of people affected by vision problems and blindness. The problem is only getting worse, which is why so many organizations work to educate women during Women’s Eye Health month.
Now that you know that millions end up with vision impairment and blindness, you must take action. If you are a woman, we recommend that you stay up-to-date with your eye doctor visits. The American Optometric Association recommends that every person see their eye doctor at least every 2 years. For people who already have vision problems, they should see the eye doctor annually. Why? Most eye diseases don’t show symptoms until their later stages. Vision impairment also develops over time. For example, macular degeneration is a condition where your eye’s macula tissue becomes damaged over time.
This tissue is key for having central vision, however, the onset of this disease is very subtle. A person may lose their central vision over several years and not think much of it until it becomes a severe vision problem. However, there is no cure for macular degeneration. If the disease runs in your family, you can take measures to prevent it with medicines, eyewear that blocks out blue light and other methods. The key to preventing this disease lies in proactive measures years before symptoms even begin. That’s why it’s so important to be knowledgeable about eye health. Some diseases can’t be stopped, but their progression can be halted if an eye doctor catches them in the early stages. You can even prevent a disease that runs in your family if you work closely with your eye doctor and take care of your eyes.
Eat a balanced diet! If you are getting all the essential vitamins and minerals, your body won’t be lacking any of the nutrients it needs to keep your eyes healthy. Millions of people smoke, which significantly increases their risk for cancer, diseases and nerve damage. Tobacco destroys nerves, including ones in your eyes. Be smart about the medicines you take as well, and always discuss side effects with your doctors to make sure medicines aren’t hurting your eyes.
However, the most important thing you can do to protect your vision is to have frequent eye exams. If you do, your doctor will catch diseases when they are barely perceptible. They can help you stop the progression of many conditions right then and there. To learn more about vision impairment and common eye conditions during Women’s Eye Health month, call Optical Masters today at (303) 377-0752!