According to the National Eye Institute, twice as many women as men are diagnosed with vision-threatening diseases each year. Unfortunately, the downside of women’s unique vision issues goes even further than that.
Across the globe, women are more likely to suffer blindness and vision loss. Of the common eye diseases, dry eye syndrome is two to three times more common in women than in men at any age because of differences in hormones.
Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and certain forms of cataract are more prevalent in women than in men. (More than half of Americans age 65 and older have a cataract, but for unknown reasons, women are at a higher risk of getting the cortical form of cataract.)
Women’s Unique Vision Issues Increase with Age
These risks, as well as age-related afflictions such as macular degeneration, increase with age, affecting women more often because women tend to live longer. In developing countries, infectious diseases such as trachoma are more prevalent in women, perhaps because in those regions, women have less access to medical care than men.
As if that weren’t bad enough, the Mayo Clinic ophthalmology department found that sleep deprivation can lead to blurred vision and eye discomfort; if those conditions are allowed to persist, in chronic stages they can bring about major vision problems, such as glaucoma, the second most common cause of blindness.
While men as well as women suffer from sleep deprivation, Health Day News reports that women are in a category of their own.
Dr. Meir Kryger, director of the Sleep Disorder Clinic at St. Boniface Hospital Research Center at the University of Manitoba, notes that, “There are many sleep problems that men don’t ever have, like the sleepiness of pregnancy, waking up for breast-feeding, and hot flashes. Further, the most common sleep problem is insomnia, and in every single age group beginning at adolescence, women are two times more likely to have insomnia than are men.”
Added to that is the rise in single family homes. In the majority of cases the children are living with a mother. This means more stress and less sleep for the mother. Both of which can lead to vision problems, either at the time or later in life.
To help protect your vision and keep your eyes healthy, Kaiser Permanente recommends the following:
- Do not smoke
- Wear a hat or sunglasses when you are in the sun
- Avoid sunlamps and tanning booths
- Maintain a healthy diet, including lots of green vegetables
- Limit alcoholic drinks
- Keep diabetes under control
The Good News
There are steps that women can take to reduce their risk of vision problems. Our eyes are exposed to many damaging elements throughout our lives. Some of these we can avoid with proper care. UV and UVB rays from the sun can cause damage to the retina of our eyes.
Making sure that you have sunglasses that block all or most of these rays is an easy and important step in protecting your vision. Wide brimmed hats will help but you should also wear sunglasses whenever you are out of the house.
Sleep is also an important aspect of eye health. When we sleep our bodies attempt to repair the damage done. Lack of sleep means that there is less time for the healing to take place. You also have to consider that if you are not sleeping you are probably doing something that involves your vision, either working on a computer, watching television, or maybe reading a book.
These all put strain on your eyes, especially if the lighting is bad. So you’re not only not getting the benefit of the healing sleep, you’re adding to already strained eyes.
Exercise is another important aspect of eye health. People who stay healthy and active are less likely to develop macular degeneration and other forms of age-related vision problems. So make sure that you get your exercise today. Walk to the store or work if possible, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or make time for a walk in the park, your eyes will thank you. You never know, more exercise may even help you to sleep better.
We can’t emphasize to much the importance of a good diet when it comes to your vision health. However, we understand that you may not have the time, energy, or money to make sure that you get all the foods that are necessary for strong, healthy eyes. Another way to ensure that you receive all the vitamins and nutrients that your eyes need is an eye vitamin or eye supplement.
While these will work, improving your diet naturally is a better source for the nutrients your eye need. For more information about the foods high in these nutrients see our post, “Natural Eye Health Starts and Ends with Your Diet“.
Whether you are currently having vision issues or just want to ensure that your vision stays strong and healthy, taking daily eye vitamins can help.
While women suffer a higher risk for many types of vision problems, women, men, and children can benefit from these vision tips. It’s never too early or too late to start taking care of your eyes!