Celebrating Women’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month: April 2024

Shedding Light on Women’s Eye Health

April marks Women’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month as declared by Prevent Blindness, a volunteer eye health organization. It is a time to highlight the importance of vision care for women and raise awareness about the unique challenges they may face. According to findings from the Center of Disease Control, more females than males experience permanent vision loss or blindness, underscoring the need for targeted education and preventive measures to safeguard women’s eye health.

Celebrating Women's Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month: April 2024

Top Eye Diseases Disproportionately Affecting Women

Women are more susceptible to certain eye diseases compared to men, putting them at higher risk of vision impairment. Here are some of the top eye diseases that disproportionately affect women:

  • Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD): AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in older adults, particularly among women. It affects the macula, the central part of the retina, leading to a central scotoma (blind spot) or distortions in your vision. Other risk factors include family history, older age, smoking, and UV exposure.
  • Cataract: Cataracts are common among aging individuals and are characterized by clouding of the eye’s natural lens. Women tend to develop cataracts at an earlier age than men, leading to a higher disease burden and vision impairment if left untreated.
  • Dry Eye: Dry eye syndrome is more prevalent in women, especially women who are in their postmenopausal stage. Women are also more susceptible to certain autoimmune diseases that can affect tear production include Sjogrens or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy: Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that affects the blood vessels in the retina. It can lead to hemorrhages and swelling in the back of your eye. Macular swelling can lead to fluctuations in your vision, leading to inconsistent clarity.

Celebrating Women's Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month: April 2024

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Factors Contributing to Disparities in Women’s Eye Health

Several factors are thought to contribute to the higher prevalence of eye diseases among women:

  • Longer Life Expectancy: Women tend to live longer than men, exposing them to age-related eye conditions such as AMD and cataracts.
  • Autoimmune Diseases: Women are more susceptible to autoimmune diseases, which can affect various organs, including the eyes. Conditions like lupus and Sjögren’s syndrome can cause dry eye syndrome and other vision-related complications.
  • Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in hormone levels, particularly during pregnancy and menopause, can affect eye health and contribute to conditions like dry eye syndrome.

Celebrating Women's Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month: April 2024

Proactive Ways to Take Care of Your Eyes

Ensuring optimal eye health involves a combination of preventive measures and proactive lifestyle choices. Here are key steps to safeguard your vision:

  1. Schedule a Comprehensive Eye Exam: Regular eye exams, including a comprehensive assessment of your vision and eye health, are essential for early detection and management of eye diseases. Be sure to request a retinal exam, which can detect signs of conditions like diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.
  2. Discuss Family History and Risk Factors: Conversations with family members about their eye health history can provide valuable insights into potential genetic predispositions and risk factors for certain eye diseases. Knowing your family history allows you to take proactive steps to mitigate risks and prioritize preventive care.
  3. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Adopting a nutritious diet supports overall eye health and reduces the risk of age-related eye conditions. Avoiding smoking will also contribute to better eye health.
  4. Wear Sunglasses and UV Protection: Protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation by wearing sunglasses with 100% UV protection when outdoors, even on cloudy days. UV exposure can contribute to cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye disorders.
  5. Incorporate Regular Physical Exams: Annual physical exams with your primary care provider are crucial for monitoring your overall health and detecting systemic conditions that can impact your vision. Conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and autoimmune diseases can affect the eyes and may require coordinated care with an eye specialist.

This April, join us in shedding light on women’s eye health and raising awareness about the unique challenges women may face. Whether it’s scheduling a comprehensive eye exam, discussing family history and risk factors with your loved ones, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, or wearing sunglasses and UV protection, every action counts towards preserving your vision.

Avatar of Catherine Ong

Catherine Ong

Dr. Catherine Ong, OD, is an optometrist based in the Bay Area, California. She earned her doctorate from UC Berkeley, School of Optometry and currently provides primary and speciality eyecare in a private practice setting. She has a passion for patient education and enjoys reshaping technical concepts into digestable topics for all patients. When she is not seeing patients, you can find her exploring new restaurants, exercising, or trying out new recipes.