Data from the Prevent Blindness study, “The Future of Vision: Forecasting the Prevalence and Costs of Vision Problems,” found that women make up the majority of the 4.4 million Americans age 40 and older who are visually impaired or blind.
The following are five things women should know about vision and eye health:
1. More women than men are at risk for vision loss from eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.
According to the National Eye Institute, more than 3 million women and more than 1.5 million men have dry eye. Dry eye is more common after menopause and women who experience menopause prematurely are more likely to have eye surface damage from dry eye.
2. More women are caregivers- Women often make the majority of their family’s health care decisions.
In addition to being responsible for their own health, women are often responsible as caregivers for the health care choices of their children, partners, spouses and aging parents. A woman making her vision health a priority positively impacts those around her, including those that depend on her care.
3. Keeping a healthy lifestyle also helps keep the eyes healthy, including exercising regularly, not smoking and following a healthy diet.
Talk to a dietician about eating habits and a doctor before starting an exercise program. Make sure to always wear UV eye protection when outdoors.
4. Pregnancy can cause vision changes including refractive changes, dry eyes, and puffy eyelids.
Expectant mothers may also experience vision effects from migraine headaches, diabetes and high blood pressure. Glaucoma medications such as carbonic anhydrase inhibitors can be harmful to the developing baby. All pregnant women should discuss all medications and any changes in their vision immediately with their doctor.
5. Prevent Blindness recommends periodic dilated eye exams as the best way to ensure that vision is healthy and to help keep it that way.
Additionally, a dilated eye exam can also help detect other conditions that affect overall health including high blood pressure or diabetes.
Prevent Blindness created the program, See Jane See: Women’s Healthy Eyes Now, to provide free education and resources on these topics and many more to help women better understand vision issues that are unique to them. The webpage also features a section written by leading experts on topics from eye safety to the importance of routine care.
“Above all else, the most important message we want to send is that first step for everyone, no matter what age, is to get a complete eye exam by an eye care professional,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness. “By taking care of vision today, we can all help to keep vision healthy in the future.”
For more information on women’s eye health, including fact sheets on eye diseases, pregnancy and vision, as well as financial assistance, please visit www.SeeJaneSee.org, or call (800) 331-2020.