Women’s Health Week is May 8-14. While it is common to focus on issues that predominantly affect women, such as breast cancer and cervical cancer prevention, there are other topics that are important as well. Did you know that women are more at risk for visual impairment or blindness? This may surprise you, but it is true. It is not because women do not go to the doctor or stay current with preventative check-ups. In reality, women are much more willing than men to schedule well visits and screenings.
Here are some possible reasons why women suffer from eye disease and blindness more than men:
1. Hormones. According to the National Eye Institute, more than 3 million women have dry eye, compared to only 1.5 million men. Dry eye is a common condition after menopause, and women who experience premature menopause are even more at risk to experience eye surface damage from dry eye. These hormonal changes may be why women are more at risk for degenerative eye diseases like cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.
2. Pregnancy. Carrying a child takes a toll on the entire body and puts an expectant mother at risk for conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and migraine headaches. These conditions can put excess strain on the blood vessels of the eyes. Being pregnant can cause dry eye, puffy eyelids and even refractive changes in the eyesight which can be temporary or permanent.
3. Nutrition. Because women’s bodies go through so many changes during pregnancy and menopause, they can become deficient in vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients. Eating a well-balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, fiber, and whole grains is essential for good eye health. Sometimes, women are so consumed with taking care of others that they may neglect their own well-being without even knowing it.
Women give so much, but they also need to take care of their own health needs. Remember to start with the basics: eat nutritious foods, exercise regularly and get adequate sleep. Comprehensive eye exams are essential for diagnosing eye conditions, so schedule regular checkups with your eye care specialist. Don’t forget that the dilation of your eye is an important component of the comprehensive eye exam so your doctor can assess whether you have conditions that can affect your overall heath such as high blood pressure or diabetes (Source: Prevent Blindness).