Women have always had kind of a one-up on men because it’s said that women live longer than men. But it turns out that living longer than men may not be something worth cheering for so much because it also means women are much more likely to experience vision problems and even lose their sight entirely before men do.
Eye diseases like glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts can all cause irreversible eye damage and vision loss, and since the chances of developing one of these diseases increases significantly the older you get, it is much more likely for women to develop them than it is for men. There are also a lot of other things women experience that men don’t that can cause changes in women’s eye health.
Women go through an awful lot of body changes throughout their lifetimes, and those body changes are due to fluctuations in hormones. These continual hormonal changes can also have an effect on vision changes in women. In addition to age-related eye diseases, women are much more prone to dry eyes than men are due to hormone changes brought on by birth control pills and even menopause.
Besides just the hormones themselves, there are also other health conditions that can be brought on by the use of birth control pills, such as strokes and blood clots, which can result in damage to the eyes. Menopausal women who are taking hormone replacements are also at higher risk for developing cataracts.
Nothing leads to more changes in hormones than pregnancy, and since the hormones change so frequently during pregnancy, women can experience a lot of different eye health issues. Pregnant women who wear glasses or contacts may notice that their corrective lenses may not be as effective as they were before pregnancy and may even need to be adjusted.
Pregnancy can also cause women to experience dry eye syndrome as well as cause sensitivity to light, which can lead to chronic headaches and migraines, which can then lead to additional vision issues. Pregnancy can exacerbate diabetic retinopathy in women who are diabetic. Diabetes can actually cause a lot of vision problems itself, the worst of which is blindness.
Women are much more likely than men to develop autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s Syndrome, and many others. These diseases have the ability to cause problems with eye health like blurry or cloudy vision, itchy eyes, dry eyes, double vision, and in some cases even blindness.
When women have an autoimmune disease and then get pregnant or experience other hormonal changes on top of those diseases, the eye problems they may already have due to the autoimmune diseases can become much worse or develop much faster.
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Lack of Adequate Eye Care
Many of the eye diseases that affect women can be treated and sometimes even reversed if they are caught early. However, there are many women who, for one reason or another, do not get their eyes checked regularly, whether it’s because they don’t have vision insurance or can’t afford to pay for eye exams out of pocket, or they are just neglectful of their eye health.
Medical professionals state that early detection of eye problems is key in being able to properly treat eye diseases before they cause permanent damage or vision loss. It is especially important for women over 40 to have annual eye exams performed as this is the age when a lot of eye diseases develop and can be detected.
Preserving Your Eye Health
As long as women, and men for that matter, take proper care of their eyes, they shouldn’t fear losing their eyesight. Regular eye exams can go a long way in preventing your eyes from deteriorating and taking other precautions can help keep your eyes healthy longer too.
Everyone, no matter what age, should have regular eye exams, but when you hit the age of 40, that’s when eye exams become that much more important. Also, if there is a history of eye diseases in your family, your chances for developing those same eye diseases are increased. If you notice any changes in your vision such as blurry vision, eye pain, or you have any kind of eye injury, you should have your eyes checked right away to eliminate the possibility of any serious eye problems.
If you smoke, you should quit as soon as possible. Smoking not only causes many health problems and damage to your organs that can lead to issues with your eyes, but the risk of losing your eyesight completely is increased if you smoke.
Take care of your body health to reduce the risk of vision problems. If you’re overweight or just really out of shape, starting a weight loss or work out plan is essential for preventing vision problems. This is because many vision problems are caused by health issues associated with being overweight, so if you decrease your chances of developing other health issues such as heart disease and diabetes, you greatly decrease your chances of developing eye problems as well.
Eating foods that are good for eye health will also improve your eye health. You want to eat foods that are high in vitamin C, omega-3s, vitamin A, and any other food that is considered an anti-oxidant. These foods include oranges and berries, spinach, kale, and other green leafy vegetables, and fish and egg yolks just to name a few.
Wear sunglasses whenever you’re outside to protect your eyes from UVA and UVB rays from the sun. Never overuse your contact lenses and always wash your hands well before handling your contact lenses to avoid eye infections and irritations.
Always pay attention to any changes in your vision or any eye problems you notice and get your eyes checked as soon as possible. The better care you take of yourself and the more aware you are of how your vision is changing, the better your chances are of being able to see for a very long time.