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House Call: Women and Vision

Published: Apr. 27, 2021 at 10:39 AM EDT
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Women suffer from visual impairments more than men do. In fact, two thirds of blindness occurs in women. Fortunately, 75% of visual impairment is preventable and treatable. Joining us tonight for Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month is Dr. Emerson T. Que, Ophthalmologist at UHC Ophthalmology.

1). Why do more women suffer from vision loss more than men do?

Many vision problems are age-related such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Since women tend to live longer than men do, it is quite common to see women suffer from vision loss as they age.

Next to age, vision problems can also arise from hormonal issues. To illustrate this point, dry eye syndrome is more common after menopause, affecting more than 3.2 million American women who are middle-aged and older.

Autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis affect women three times more than men. Issues with vision are one of the serious side effects arising from this condition. Women tend to look after the well-being of their family, to their own detriment. As a result, women tend to overlook their own health, including their vision, when taking care of their families.

A sudden surge in hormones during pregnancy may result to changes in vision. These include dry eye, refractive errors, diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment due to high blood pressure, and puffy eyelids. While most of these conditions are temporary and will disappear post-delivery, expectant women should be aware of the signs and symptoms indicating a serious problem.

2). What are some bad eye habits that women need to improve upon?

We all should remove contact lenses before taking a bath, shower, swimming, or any activity that involves water getting in your eyes. Dispose your contact lenses and buy a new pair if water comes in contact with your eyes while wearing them. This will help prevent acanthamoeba keratitis resulting from exposure of your contacts and eyes to water that is contaminated with the amoeba Acanthamoeba.

Women are more likely to wear cosmetic contact lenses. Vision problems can arise though when these lenses are bought without prescription at beach shops, boutiques, and non-professionals. If you wish to wear these fashionable lenses, it is always best to consult with a licensed eye care professional first. If possible, do not wear contact lenses without the supervision of an eye care doctor. Also, never trade or share your contact lenses with your girlfriends.

Wash your hands first before putting on eye makeup. Keep all applicators clean and in good condition. If possible, do not reuse old applicators and opt for disposable types instead. Most importantly, do not ever sleep with your eye makeup on.

Most women carry makeup in their purse or leave their purse inside the car. Kick this habit as soon as you can because extreme temperatures can break down the preservatives and make room for bacteria to grow. You do not want to dab bacteria into your eyes.

3). How can women achieve optimum vision?

Lifelong good nutrition is a key influencer of good health including your vision. Dark green vegetables have been shown to reduce risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Kale is one of the more nutrient dense leafy green vegetables, but there are certainly other you should include on your grocery list.

Go cold turkey. Apart from the reducing your risk of a whole host of diseases such as cancer and respiratory issues, smoking is the most important modifiable risk factor for AMD development and progression.

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