April Is Women's Eye Health Month

Did you know that women have a greater chance of developing certain eye diseases compared to men? Women develop blindness and have visual impairments twice as much as men. This means that 2/3rds of people with blindness and vision problems are women. Many women aren't aware that they have a higher risk for developing eye and vision problems. This is why April as Women's Eye Health Month is so important. If more people know how eye diseases and vision problems happen, they will take more action to protect their eyesight.

Why are women at higher risk?

Age - Later in life, eye problems become more frequent in both men and women. However, women statistically have a higher chance of developing chronic conditions. All of these affect eye health. Women also tend to live longer, and as a result, they are at higher risk for age-related conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration.

Hormones - Women pass through several bodies and hormone changes that men do not. Women may experience several significant hormonal changes during both pregnancy and menopause which may impact their eyes and/or vision. To illustrate this point, dry eye syndrome is more common after menopause, affecting over 3.2 million American women who are middle-aged and older. Pregnancy causes changes in the eyes such as dry eyes, puffiness, migraine headaches that affect vision, light sensitivity and more. 

Autoimmune conditions - As mentioned above with age, women are 3x more likely to be affected by autoimmune diseases than men. These conditions include multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. These conditions have the potential to manifest in the eyes leaving the patient with discomfort and/or vision loss.

Prevent Blindness America, the organization to first institute April as Women's Eye Health month, urges women to take action to prevent blindness in their futures. Their study found that out of 4.1 million Americans over 40 with vision problems and blindness, 2.6 of those people were women. Studies every 10 years also show that there is a steady increase in the number of people affected by vision problems and blindness. The problem is only getting worse, which is why so many organizations work to educate women during Women's Eye Health Month.

What Can Women Do?

Eat a Balanced Diet - If you are getting all the essential vitamins and minerals, your body won’t be lacking any of the nutrients it needs to keep your eyes healthy. 

Don't Smoke - Millions of people smoke, which significantly increases their risk for cancer, diseases and nerve damage. Tobacco destroys nerves, including ones in your eyes. 
Understand the medicines you take - Always discuss side effects with your doctors to make sure your medications aren't causing damage to your eyes.

Schedule an Eye Exam - The most important thing you can do to protect your vision is to have frequent eye exams.  If you are a woman, we recommend that you stay up-to-date with your eye doctor visits. The American Optometric Association recommends that every person see their eye doctor at least every 2 years. For people who already have vision problems, they should see the eye doctor annually. Why? Most eye diseases don't show symptoms until their later stages. Vision impairment also develops over time. Contact the Gulf Coast Vision Center at our Pace or Crestview locations or at one of our Pensacola locations at Nine Mile or East Hill to schedule a comprehensive eye exam today.