Did you know that two thirds of people living with visual impairments are women? Find out why women are at greater risk for vision loss and other eye conditions, and how you can protect your eyes this month and always.
Women have a higher risk of developing several eye diseases and conditions that cause vision problems, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, autoimmune diseases, glaucoma, and thyroid eye disease.
One reason is that women live longer than men, on average. This puts them at higher risk of contracting eye problems and other health issues that come with aging. Aging also brings menopause, and those resulting hormonal changes can alter vision.
Another reason? Financial disparities can put women at a disadvantage when it comes to receiving regular eye care, affording eyeglasses or contacts, and maintaining a lifestyle that protects eye health. Prevent Blindness found that one in four women have not had an eye exam in the past four years.
Lastly, family responsibilities can sometimes get in the way for women, who are quick to take a family member to the doctor, but may not do the same for themselves. Pregnancy can also have an impact on vision. Some women have trouble seeing clearly during certain phases of their pregnancy.
Protecting Your Eyes
Know your risk. The first step in protecting your eyes as a woman is to be aware of the risks. Prevent Blindness discovered that fewer than 10 percent of women realize that they are at a greater risk than men of suffering permanent vision loss, and 86 percent believe that men and women are at equal risk.
Commit to visiting your eye doctor regularly. Get a dilated eye exam, and ask your doctor how often you should get one based on your age and family history. Be sure to go to the eye doctor if you experience red-flag symptoms, such as light flashes and distorted vision. The earlier a doctor can intervene, the greater chance there will be at ensuring your vision remains intact.
Eat a healthy diet and exercise. A diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruits, salmon, tuna, eggs, nuts, and beans has been shown to lower your risk and, combined with regular exercise, can help you lower your risk of high blood pressure (which can lead to vision problems, especially glaucoma).
Manage health conditions. Many diseases and health conditions can lead to visual impairment. If you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor about what you need to do to protect your vision in pregnancy. Diabetes is another condition that can have consequences for your vision; it can lead to diabetic retinopathy if not managed well.
Don’t smoke. Smoking is linked to a variety of eye conditions, including glaucoma, AMD, and cataracts.
Wear sunglasses. Sunlight contains vision-harming ultraviolet rays. A daily habit of wearing sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays reduces your exposure.
Ladies, schedule your eye exam today. The more you do for your eye health, the better. Contact us to set up your next appointment.