May is not only dedicated to Mother’s Day but to awareness of women’s eye health issues. According to the World Health Organization, women can face more vision-related problems than men. Two main factors are general lifespan and hormones. Age is a vital risk factor for many vision problems so more women tend to have eye diseases since women generally live longer than men. Hormones can also play a part to increase the risk of eye disease. Women with changing hormones during pregnancy or menopause are more likely to develop certain eye conditions including refractive changes.
Women are at increased risk for:
Age-Related Macular Degeneration A condition that usually occurs over the age of 50 and involves the deterioration of the macula which is responsible for central vision. This disease is managed by slowing its progression.
Cataracts A cataract is the clouding of the natural lens in the eye and is usually the result of the aging process. Unlike many eye conditions, cataracts are generally easily treatable and vision loss can be restored with the removal of the cataract.
Diabetic Retinopathy This diabetic eye disease is one of the leading causes of blindness and can be managed by early detection, appropriate treatment and control of blood sugar levels.
Dry eye The onset of dry eye for women usually occurs most often throughout the menopause phase. Chronic dry eyes can cause decreased vision, irritation, redness or even painful eyes.
Presbyopia For women over the age of 40, presbyopia is a common vision condition that results from the loss of elasticity of the lens. This condition affects the ability to focus on up close objects clearly.
The great news is that although you may be more at risk for certain eye-related conditions, it doesn’t mean that you will definitely develop problems, and if you do, you will have many options to deal with them.
1. Ensure that you get a comprehensive eye dilated exam by a specialist yearly. 2. Maintain good physical health with a balanced diet and regular exercise.
3. Know your family history as certain eye diseases can be inherited or increase your risk.
4. If you spend a lot of time using a screen, give your eyes a break by utilizing the 20- 20-20 rule – Every 20 minutes, Look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
5. Wear 100% UV protection sunglasses when outside.
6. Stop smoking as smoking can increase your risk.
7. Practice proper cosmetic hygiene by washing applicators regularly, not sharing makeup, ensuring that expired cosmetics are discarded and finally by removing all makeup at the end of the day. To learn more or to make an appointment contact Trinidad Eye Hospital.
Dr Ronnie Bhola