April Focus: Women’s Eye Health & Safety

April is Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month.

Globally, there are 112 million more women than men living with vision loss, including blindness, according to Orbis International.

Women have a higher prevalence of age-related macular degeneration, cataract, dry eye, glaucoma, refractive error and thyroid eye disease. According to The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health: vision beyond 2020 report, the gender imbalance can be attributed to demographic factors (women living longer than men) and social factors (women having reduced access to care).

Hormones may cause women to experience changes in their vision throughout their lifetime, including during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. In fact, hormone levels change significantly during pregnancy. According to All About Vision, these changes can affect:

  • Eyelids – Many pregnant women have increased pigmentation around the eyelids called melasma or chloasma.
  • Corneas– The corneas may change in thickness, curvature and sensitivity during pregnancy. This can result in refractive error, which causes blurry vision. It’s also possible for women who had been wearing contact lenses before pregnancy to develop a temporary intolerance to them.
  • Tear production – Pregnancy requires the work of many hormones. Sometimes these hormones can affect the tear film and lacrimal glands of the eyes, leading to dry eye syndrome.
  • Intraocular pressure (IOP)– Pressure within the eye decreases during pregnancy, though it’s rare for pressure to become dangerously low while pregnant.
  • Lenses– Accommodation is a function of the eye’s lens that allows it to change focus from distant vision to near vision. During pregnancy and lactation, some women have reported losing their accommodation ability.

Women who have diabetes are at higher risk for developing diabetes-related retinopathy.

Women who are perimenopausal (nearing menopause) or already in menopause may also experience vision changes. In fact, hormone fluctuations may cause changes in eyesight and eye shape, which may cause contact lenses to become uncomfortable. Dry eye occurs at double the rate in postmenopausal women, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).

Preserve Vision Florida provides a comprehensive online library of information about conditions and diseases that affect women’s vision. Check our online Resources for more information.

Source: PreventBlindness.org

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