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Being a Woman Increases The Chances of Developing Eye Problems
When it comes to eye health and vision, men and women aren’t created equal. It might surprise you to learn that, worldwide, two-thirds of all cases of blindness and visual impairment occur in women.
Read on to learn why being a woman increases the chances of developing eye problems, and how regular visits to your eye doctor can help.
Longer Life Expectancy
Women live about 5 years longer than men on average. Moreover, women tend to remain healthier longer than their male counterparts. According to the World Health Organization, the average woman can expect to live a full 70 years before experiencing a major disease or injury, compared to 67 healthy years for a man.
But a woman’s increased life expectancy has significant implications when it comes to her eye health and vision. Age is a major risk factor for conditions and diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and dry eye syndrome.
The longer a woman lives, the more likely that she will develop a serious eye condition or disease.
Women experience a remarkable amount of hormonal fluctuation throughout their lifespan. Puberty, pregnancy, and menopause all cause surges of estrogen, which can affect vision. Taking birth control pills also can cause visual or ocular symptoms, due to the varying levels of progesterone and estrogen.
Fluctuating estrogen levels can result in dry eye syndrome, which causes uncomfortable symptoms like red, itchy, watery eyes and, if untreated, possibly eye damage. Some women also experience blurred vision during estrogen surges. This is common during pregnancy but vision tends to normalize shortly after birth.
In almost every society around the world, women take more medication than their male counterparts. This includes both prescription and over-the-counter medications. What many don’t know is that several of these medications can pose significant risks to your eye health and vision, if taken in high dose and over an extended period of time.
Some medications that can affect your eyes include corticosteroids, antihistamines, antimalarials, and antipsychotic and antidepressant medications. Always consult your doctor before taking any prescription or nonprescription medications.
An autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s own immune system backfires and attacks the body’s own tissue. While the exact reason is still unclear, it is well documented that women have far more autoimmune diseases than men.
According to The National Institutes of Health, 75% of people living with an autoimmune disease are female. Some common autoimmune disorders that impact eye health include rheumatoid arthritis, Sjorgen’s syndrome, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and Graves’ disease (hyperthyroidism). These can cause symptoms like dry and red eyes, foreign-body sensation, pain, changes in vision, and sometimes vision loss.
What Can Women Do To Preserve Their Eye Health?
Whether you are male or female, taking a preventative approach to eye care is the best way to preserve your vision.
Eat a healthy diet rich in vitamins A, C, E, Omega-3’s, and zinc to support eye health. Quit or reduce smoking if you haven't already. Also, limit your alcohol intake.
In addition to healthy lifestyle choices, a key factor in minimizing your risk of eye disease is seeing your eye doctor regularly.
Having frequent comprehensive eye exams allows your eye doctor to screen your eyes for early signs of disease. By detecting eye disease early, you’ll increase your chances of receiving effective treatment and preserving your vision.
Dr. Alan Schlussel optometrists in West Orange, New Jersey provide expert eye exams and quality eye care services.
Call Dr. Alan Schlussel to schedule your comprehensive eye exam today.