Why Women are at Higher Risk for Eye Disease
April is Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month. Women are often responsible for making their family’s health care decisions yet sometimes neglect caring for themselves. 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. Global estimates suggest that women with moderate and severe presenting distance vision impairment outnumber men by approximately 7 percent.
The National Eye Institute Dry Eye Fact Sheet states, “Dry eye is more common after menopause. Women who experience menopause prematurely are more likely to have eye surface damage from dry eye.” Increasing numbers of research studies show that the glands of the eyes and eyelids are affected by hormonal issues. As women age, and especially as they reach menopause, they can experience hormonal imbalances that are thought to contribute to dry eye syndrome.
Dry eye syndrome is a condition where a person doesn’t produce enough quality or volume of tears to lubricate the eye. This is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults. Chronic dry eye is an often unrecognized, unattended part of the aging process and is quickly becoming an important public health issue impacting both the quality of life as well as the physical health of nearly 10 million Americans each year.
Chronic dry eye occurs in both men and women; however, women are affected two to three times more often. The onset of dry eye occurs most frequently when women are entering menopause, during menopause, and in the post-menopausal years.
TIPS TO MAINTAIN OPTIMAL EYE HEALTH
- Have Regular Eye Exams: Many of the eye diseases that are common in women do not cause early symptoms and the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends establishing a baseline eye exam by age 40. The conditions can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam. Early diagnosis and treatment can save a woman’s vision.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: Being overweight increases your chances of developing certain conditions, such as diabetes, which may lead to eye disease.
- Exercise: We know exercise is good for our bones, heart, and lungs. It may also protect our vision. Studies have indicated getting regular exercise may lower your risk of eye disease. If you’re physically active – great. Should you have a sedentary lifestyle, now is the time to talk to your physician and make changes.
- Don’t Smoke: You probably already know that when it comes to your health, smoking is a no-no, but it doesn’t only affect your lungs. Smoking is also bad for your vision. Women and men who smoke are at a higher risk of developing eye diseases, such as glaucoma and cataracts.
- Wear Sunglasses: Too much exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun increases your chances of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Be sure to wear sunglasses that provide 100 percent UV protection. Rays from the sun can penetrate the clouds on gray, cloudy or winter days.
- Use Proper Eye Protection: At work, home or play accidents can happen. Three main types of eye protection exist – safety glasses, goggles, and face shields. Each one has their advantages and disadvantages. The staff at Bissell Eye Care can help you determine the best solution for your lifestyle.
Take charge of your eye health and protect your vision for years to come. To learn more about dry eyes and other eye conditions, call our office at 724-443-6767 or 724-226-0444.
About Bissell Eye Care: John D. Bissell, OD owns and operates Bissell Eye Care servicing Northern Pittsburgh and Alle-Kiski Valley regions. With two locations to treat patients, we offer evening and Saturday appointments. Bissell Eye Care provides comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family beginning as early as 6 months, ocular disease detection and treatment, eyeglasses, sunglasses, activewear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. We accept most types of vision and health insurance plans. For more information, visit bisselleyecare.com or call our Bakerstown Office at 724-443-6767 or Natrona Heights office at 724-226-0444.