Women, unfortunately, tend to be more vulnerable to a number of eye diseases, even if they are less likely than men to sustain a sight-threatening eye injury over the course of their lives. So what can they do to protect their eyesight?
Women are more likely to develop glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) than men. Glaucoma is a group of conditions that damage the optic nerve, causing permanent vision loss. AMD is the gradual loss of central vision. The main reason women are more vulnerable to these conditions is that they have longer life expectancies than men. The best way to fight them is with early detection, which means keeping up with your regular eye exams.
It’s not just sight-threatening conditions that affect women more than men; women are also more prone to chronic dry eye and are more likely to need glasses than men. Symptoms of dry eye include blurred vision, redness, irritation, and discomfort. It’s important to recognize the symptoms of dry eye, because if it goes untreated, it can increase the risk of eye infection.
Aside from advanced age, some of the risk factors associated with women developing eye diseases include birth control, pregnancy, and menopause, because they all involve major changes in hormone levels. Dry eye is also more likely to occur in these situations, and birth control may increase a woman’s chance of developing cataracts.
Age and gender are not controllable risk factors, but we can definitely do something about one of the big ones: neglect. Many women may forget to get the care they need for their vision health because they’re so busy keeping track of the rest of the family’s appointments! Don’t let your own healthcare needs get lost in the shuffle!
Let’s lighten things up a little after all that talk of eye-threatening conditions. There are actually physical differences between what women see and what men see! Women have been shown to be better at distinguishing subtle color differences than men, especially in the greens and yellows. Have you ever seen (or been) a couple arguing over paint swatches? Now you know why!
We hope all our patients will be proactive in taking care of their eye health. A few things we can all do is avoid smoking, eat nutritious foods, and schedule regular eye exams. If you ever notice any changes in your vision, though, there’s no need to wait until the next scheduled appointment, especially if it’s months away!