Did you know that women are more susceptible to eye conditions such as cataract and glaucoma than men? According to the National Eye Institute, two out of every three people living with blindness or vision problems are women.
This article will explore how gender differences influence the risk factors behind women’s increased susceptibility to eye conditions, including gender disparities in eye health, lifestyle factors, and underlying medical issues. We will also discuss how women can take proactive measures to protect their vision health and reduce their risk of developing an eye disease.
Women Are More Likely to Experience These Common Eye Conditions
It is important to be aware of the common types of eye conditions that can affect women. Age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and dry eye syndrome are some of the most common types of eye conditions that can affect women more often than men. These conditions can cause permanent vision loss or even blindness if left untreated. It is important for women to get regular checkups with an optometrist to ensure they are staying healthy and taking care of their eyes. Knowing the signs and symptoms of these common eye conditions in women is the first step towards preventing vision loss.
Understanding the Higher Prevalence of Eye Disease in Women
Vision problems can affect anyone, but women are at a higher risk of developing certain eye conditions for several reasons. From age and medications to hormonal changes and genetic predispositions, the factors that lead to eye problems in women are complex and varied.
The Role of Estrogen in Women’s Eye Health
Hormonal changes can play a major role in women’s eye health. Hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can have a significant impact on vision health. As women age, their bodies go through menopause, which can cause a decrease in estrogen levels. Estrogen helps to protect the female retina, safeguard against age-related macular degeneration, and modulate ocular blood flow. Therefore, when levels drop in menopausal women, visual impairment may become more severe. This includes conditions such as glaucoma, dry eyes, AMD, and cataracts. Additionally, postmenopausal women are at risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, both of which can lead to ocular complications.
Autoimmune disorders and their affect on Eye Health
Autoimmune diseases are serious conditions that occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own cells. These diseases can cause inflammation, dryness, and other conditions that can lead to vision impairment. Women have an increased risk of developing autoimmune disease. In fact, 80% of individuals with autoimmune diseases are women. Although the exact cause of autoimmune diseases is unknown, researchers believe that environmental factors such as stress and exposure to certain chemicals may play a role in their development. Additionally, genetics may also be involved. Women with autoimmune diseases are more likely to suffer from age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, blurry vision and other eye-related problems.
Medications can affect eyesight
Some medications can increase the risk for eye disease in female patients. Antibiotics, antidepressants, antihistamines, beta-blockers, birth control pills, cholesterol lowering drugs, diuretics, and hormone replacement therapy are some of the many medications that can cause problems with your eye health. Some of these medications may damage the cornea, lead to dry eye disease and light sensitivity. Others may cause inflammation, which can lead to damage to the cornea or other eye conditions.
Coronary Heart Disease affects women differently
Coronary heart disease (CHD), which is a leading cause of death in women, is a chronic condition in which the heart’s blood vessels are unable to supply enough oxygenated blood to the heart. Before reaching menopause, estrogen protects women against coronary artery disease by raising HDL cholesterol and keeping the arteries flexible so they can deliver more oxygen to heart tissues. After menopause, estrogen levels drop, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies have found that women who have CHD are more likely to develop certain eye conditions such as glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration compared to those without the condition. Additionally, women with CHD are at an increased risk for diabetic retinopathy, high blood pressure and other vascular diseases which can increase the risk of vision loss.
Women have longer life expectancies than men
Women are living longer than men, and this increased life expectancy is associated with a higher risk of diseases in women. As women age, the risk of developing age-related eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration increases. These conditions can lead to vision loss or even blindness if not treated properly. Therefore, it is important for women to take preventive measures to protect their eyesight as they age.
Preventive Measures & Treatment Options for Women’s Vision Care
Due to all these risks, women should take proactive steps to ensure their ocular health. Studies show that up to 75% of cases of vision loss can be prevented or treated through lifestyle changes. Diet and lifestyle play a major role in helping protect your eyes from damage caused by free radicals, reducing the risk of developing eye conditions and helping to curtail disease progression.
Making simple lifestyle changes can reduce the likelihood of developing eye diseases:
- Regular eye exams: The best way to reduce risk is by having regular dilated eye exams at least every two years beginning at age 40 so any potential issues can be caught early on. Don’t wait until you have symptoms to see your eye doctor. If eye conditions run in your family, have your eye doctor examine for early indicators of the disease. You can often take steps to avoid or slow the disease once you are diagnosed.
- Eating a balanced and healthy diet: To prevent AMD and cataracts, consume a diet rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. Dark green, leafy greens and various fruits contain zeaxanthin. Lutein can be found in omega-3-rich cold water fish like salmon and tuna, as well as eggs, almonds, and beans. In addition, healthy foods with vitamins A, B2, C, and E, as well as zinc and copper can also protect vision. Also, make sure to only consume low-fat meats like chicken and turkey. If you are going to consume red meat, it is recommended to ask your butcher for cuts of lean meats.
- Shield your eyes from UV rays: Don’t forget to don sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat before stepping outside – even on cloudy days! Your eyes will thank you for it. Prolonged exposure to bright sunlight can increase the likelihood of serious eye issues like AMD and cataracts, so it’s better to be safe than sorry!
- Look after your eyes: Wear protective eyewear that includes side protection to safeguard your eyes from all angles. This is especially important when participating sports, doing yard work or using power tools, using household chemical cleaning products, working in the kitchen or any event that could lead to eye injury. Safety first, sight always!
- Prevent eye infections: Keep your makeup brushes and eyelash curlers clean and replace your eye makeup every three months to avoid bacterial infections. Wash your hands often and avoid touching or rubbing your eyes. If you wear contacts, make sure to clean them often to keep them free of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
- Quit smoking: People who smoke cigarettes are two to three times more likely to develop cataracts and up to four times more likely to develop AMD than people who don’t smoke. This is because tobacco use can lead to a decrease in blood flow around the eye, causing increased eye pressure. In addition, the smoke itself is an eye irritant that can cause dry eye syndrome and ocular allergies.
- Reduce Stress: Don’t let stress get in the way of your vision! From eye strain to double vision to visual distortion, stress can wreak havoc on your peepers. And to make matters worse, a recent study found that prolonged mental stress can actually worsen vision loss by increasing cortisol levels which can have negative impacts on the eyes. So take a deep breath and de-stress.
- Get enough sleep: Quality sleep minimizes oxidative stress and potential eye problems. Get enough sleep by limiting late-night screen time and caffeine consumption, and establish a consistent sleep routine. ARMeD™ Advanced Retinal Support Tablets contain a unique form of melatonin designed to release in sync with the body’s circadian rhythm to repair your eyes during REM sleep.
- Give your eyes a break from screens: In today’s digital era, most of us spend a large portion of our day looking at screens. Prolonged use of computers, smartphones and tablets can cause eye strain, dry eye, blurred vision and headaches. To prevent eye strain, it is recommended to follow the 20-20-20 rule: take a break every 20 minutes and focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Supplementation to protect your eye health: Studies suggest that consuming specific amino acids, antioxidants, and vitamins may help reduce the severity of age-related eye diseases, offering important protection and support for eye health. WiseChoice Medicine’s products, including Can-C™ Eyedrops, Nac-C Plus™ Capsules and ARMeD™ Advanced Retinal Support Tablets, contain proven ingredients that have been demonstrated to protect against and potentially repair common age-related eye disorders such as:
- Cataracts, a clouding of the eye lens
- Glaucoma, damage to the optic nerve
- Age-Related Macular Degeneration, a gradual loss of central vision
- Dry Eye Syndrome, irritation caused by a lack of eye lubrication
- Floaters, small dark shapes that float across your vision
Making these lifestyle changes may seem like a lot of work, but the rewards are worth it! Taking steps to improve your vision now will help you maintain clarity and sharpness of sight for years to come. So don’t wait— begin your health journey and start making small changes today that will add up over time, giving you the gift of clear vision for life!