April has been designated Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month to help build awareness that everyone, especially women, should stay on top of their routine eye exams. Statistics show that women are more likely than men to have eye-related problems. In fact, as of 2013, there were 4.1 million Americans aged 40 and older who are visually impaired or blind — 2.6 millions of those were women. The good news is that more than ¾ of visual problems are thought to be preventable and correctable.
So why are women more susceptible to eye problems?
- Birth control can negatively impact a woman’s vision and can also increase chances of developing cataracts and dry eye.
- Hormonal fluctuations that happen throughout a woman’s life can impact vision—pregnancy and menopause included.
- Women are more likely to have autoimmune problems such as lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS) and rheumatoid arthritis, which can also impact vision.
- On average, women live longer than men, making them more likely to experience age-related eye issues such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration.
How can a woman protect her eye health?
There are several steps women can take to stay on top of their eye health, including knowing signs of eye issues which include: loss of peripheral vision, cloudy or distorted vision, floating spots, flashes of light, dryness, and itchiness. Not all of these will be experienced at the same time and some eye issues, such as those related to diabetes, have no systems at all. That’s why it’s so important to receive an annual eye exam. Plus, eating a well-rounded diet, consuming plenty of water, and quitting smoking if you’re a smoker can all help keep your eyes healthy.
So, in honor of Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month, if you’re due for an exam, make April the month you put one on your calendar!