Women’s Eye Health Awareness

Women’s Eye Health Awareness

Did you know that women are more likely than men to develop certain eye-related health problems? There are a number of reasons for this difference, and I’d like to tell you why!

Firstly, women tend to live longer than men, thus the likelihood that they will develop an eye-related issue is higher simply because of time. Secondly, believe it or not, hormonal changes due to menopause can affect the eyes as well. These hormonal changes can cause women to produce less tears on their own, leading to dry eye syndrome. Research has shown that, in adults age 50 and over, about 3.2 million women and 1.7 million men are affected by dry eye. As you can see from these statistics, the number of women estimated dealing with dry eye is about TWICE the number of men.

While men and women tend to be affected equally by the most common type of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma, women are 2-4 times more likely to be affected by angle-closure glaucoma, which can potentially be more dangerous due to its sudden onset. This difference may be due to the shape of male and female eyes; according to Dr. Ruth D. Williams, MD, “the front chamber between the iris and cornea is shallower in women than men,” thus the pressure in our eyes can increase due to fluid buildup. Angle-closure glaucoma is a true eye emergency—if this type of glaucoma is not treated quickly, vision loss may be result, and damage is typically irreversible.

Of course, this is not to say men cannot experience angle-closure glaucoma as well! Anyone who has sudden onset of blurry vision, nausea, eye pain, or severe headaches should consult their optometrist or ophthalmologist to be sure. There are other genetic predispositions that can link to higher risks of glaucoma as well: African-Americans and Hispanics are also more likely to be affected.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts are two of the eye conditions that women are more likely to develop as they tend to live longer than men, as mentioned previously. Cataracts are a natural clouding of the eye’s lens. This can lead to overall blurry vision, problems with glare and halos, and trouble seeing fine detail. AMD can destroy your central vision, leading to a haziness or “black spot” in the vision when looking straight ahead.

Now, there are eye conditions men are more likely to develop than women, such as color blindness. About 8% of men and 0.5% of women are affected with color blindness, with the most common form being unable to see shades of red or green. Needless to say, eye health is important for EVERYONE, regardless of age, gender, race, or genetic predisposition. Give Kelly Eye Center a call today at (919)282-1100 and we would be happy to set up your next eye exam!