Women Must Make Eye Health a Priority Today
in Order to Preserve Vision for the Future
Columbus, OH (April 5, 2013)– Among the many differences between men and women’s health, women are more susceptible to vision impairment. Of the 4.1 million Americans ages 40 and older who are visually impaired or blind, 2.6 million are women. And, according to a recent study by Prevent Blindness America, more women than men have age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, the four leading eye diseases in the country.
According to the National Eye Institute, the causes are primarily due to longevity as well as hormonal factors. Prevent Blindness Ohio 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.
“The first thing every woman should do, especially those ages 40 and older, is get a dilated eye exam," said Sherry Williams, President & CEO of Prevent Blindness Ohio. "Through early detection and treatment, vision loss can be lessened.”
Prevent Blindness Ohio also recommends a healthy diet, quitting smoking, taking supplements (as approved by a medical professional), consistently wearing UV-blocking sunglasses with a brimmed hat outdoors and learning of any family history of eye disease.
If anyone is experiencing any of the following symptoms, an appointment with an eye care professional should be made immediately:
For more information on women’s eye health, including fact sheets on eye diseases, pregnancy and vision, and the safe use of cosmetics, please contact Prevent Blindness Ohio at (800) 301-2020 or visit www.pbohio.org.
About Prevent Blindness Ohio
Prevent Blindness Ohio, founded in 1957, is Ohio’s leading volunteer nonprofit public health organization dedicated to prevent blindness and preserve sight. We serve all 88 Ohio counties, providing direct services to more than 800,000 Ohioans annually and educating millions of consumers about what they can do to protect and preserve their precious gift of sight. Prevent Blindness Ohio is an affiliate of Prevent Blindness America, the country’s second-oldest national voluntary health organization. For more information or to make a donation call 800-301-2020 or visit us on the web at pbohio.org.
WOMEN’S EYE HEALTH & SAFETY TALKING POINTS
GENERAL WOMEN’S EYE HEALTH
Total Number of Cases in America
Total Number of Women’s Cases in Ohio
Age-related Macular Degeneration
*Based on data from the 2008 updated version of the Vision Problems in the U.S. report from Prevent Blindness America and the National Eye Institute.
Eat Healthy and Stay Fit- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the risk of cataracts can be lowered by eating 3½ servings of fruits or vegetables a day. Green leafy vegetables especially contain loads of nutrients for the eye. Pairing a healthy diet with exercise will reduce the risk of diabetes.
Take Supplements- Antioxidants have been shown to actually reduce the progression of some eye illnesses, including AMD. Vitamin A, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin C and zinc are good sources to help maintain eye health.
Quit Smoking- Besides the typically known side effects of smoking including cancer, lung disease, etc., it also increases the risk for eye diseases.
Wear UV Eye Protection- When venturing outdoors,Prevent Blindness America recommends wearing brimmed hats in conjunction with UV-rated sunglasses (labeled: absorbs 99-100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays). UV rays are extremely dangerous for the eyes.
Know Your Family History- Genetics plays a key role in eye disease. Research your family’s health history and notify your eye care professional of any eye diseases that run in the family.
HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY (HRT) AND CATARACTS
“Earlier large HRT and cataract risk studies in the United States, Australia and Europe reported mixed results; importantly, some of these studies included women who were premenopausal and so possibly protected by endogenous estrogen. Results of the Swedish study may have been impacted by factors unique to this population: for example, nearly all participating women shared the same ethnicity, and all had equal access to care. The study did not identify type of HRT, type of cataract, or measure exposure to excess sunlight, a risk factor for cataract, although unlikely to impact residents of northern Europe.”
DRY EYE SYNDROME
Dry Eye Symptoms include:
The study also found:
Possible vision changes during pregnancy include:
During pregnancy, changes in hormone levels can alter the strength you need in your eyeglasses or contact lenses. Though a slight change is usually nothing to worry about, it’s a good idea to discuss any vision changes with an eye doctor who can help you determine whether or not to update your prescription. The doctor may simply advise you to wait a few weeks after delivery before making a change in your prescription.
Puffiness around the eyes is another common side effect of certain hormonal changes women experience during pregnancy. Puffy eyelids may interfere with peripheral vision. As a rule of thumb, don’t skimp on your water intake and stick to a moderate diet low in sodium and caffeine. These healthy habits can help limit water retention and boost your overall comfort.
Migraine headaches are very common in pregnant women and may cause sensitivity to light. Talk to your doctor before taking any migraine medications.
There is an increased risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy. Blurred vision may indicate an elevation of blood sugar levels. It is important for women to follow good prenatal care and consult their doctor about any unusual symptoms.
Pregnancy-induced Hypertension (PIH)
Pregnant women who notice their vision is blurred and see spots in front of the eyes may have PIH. PIH generally resolves itself after delivery, but it is imperative to work with your doctor to minimize complications. (Better Vision Institute).
Implications for Unborn Child
Cigarette smoking, alcohol and drug use pose enormous health risks to the unborn child, but vision disorders that can result are less publicized. These exposures, as well as other problems that lead to preterm or low-birth weight infants, increase the risk of amblyopia, strabismus (crossed eyes) and significant refractive errors.