Women make up the majority of the 4.4 million Americans age 40 and older who are visually impaired or blind. More women than men have age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. One reason why women are affected by eye health issues more than men is because they tend to live longer. Women are also affected by hormonal factors, according to the National Eye Institute (NEI). Women also have greater instances of eye disorders because they:
- Live longer
- Are at greater risk for autoimmune diseases
- And are more likely to undergo certain cancer treatments that may affect vision.
According to the NEI, 3.6 million Americans age 40 and older who suffer from visual impairment, including blindness, 2.3 million are women. These numbers will only continue to increase in the years to come.
Although there are no cures for these diseases, many of the effects may be lessened through early detection and treatment.
The recent survey results are alarming combined with the results from the Prevent Blindness survey conducted last year by Harris Poll which found that:
- Less than 10 percent of American women realize that women are at a greater risk of suffering permanent vision loss than men
- 86 percent incorrectly believe that men and women are at equal risk
- 5 percent believe that men are at greater risk
Prevent Blindness has designated April as Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month in an effort to educate women about the steps they can take today to help preserve vision in the future. As women age, it is increasingly important to have regular eye exams to detect age-related eye diseases early.
We also recommend:
- Quitting smoking
- Taking supplements (as approved by a medical professional)
- Learning of any family history of eye disease
- Expectant mothers should be aware of possible vision changes during pregnancy
- All women who are pregnant or who are planning to become pregnant and have been diagnosed with diabetes should get a full, dilated eye exam
- Wear UV-blocking sunglasses and a brimmed hat outdoors
- Use cosmetics safely
- Use contact lenses safely