You ladies know how hard it is to convince men to go to the doctor. But if this is true, why is it that women make up the majority of the 4.4 million Americans age 40 and older who are blind or visually impaired? Women’s Health Week is May 8-14, so this week is a perfect opportunity to focus on women’s eye health.
There may be an explanation for why women suffer from eye disease and blindness more than men. Here are three possible reasons:
- Hormones. According to the National Eye Institute, more than 3 million women have dry eye, compared to only 1.5 million men. Dry eye is a common condition after menopause, and women who experience premature menopause are even more at risk to experience eye surface damage from dry eye. This may also be why women are more at risk for degenerative eye diseases like cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.
- Pregnancy. Carrying a child takes a toll on the entire body and puts an expectant mother at risk for conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and migraine headaches. These conditions can put excess strain on the blood vessels of the eyes. Being pregnant can cause dry eye, puffy eyelids and even refractive changes in the eyesight, which can be temporary or permanent.
- Nutrition. Because women’s bodies go through so many changes during pregnancy and menopause, they can become deficient in vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients. Eating a well-balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, fiber, and whole grains is essential for good eye health. Sometimes, women are so consumed with taking care of others that they may neglect their own well-being without even knowing it.
As a woman, you probably wear many hats: wife, mother, friend, daughter, employee, and volunteer. You may have assumed the role of caregiver to an aging parent while you are still a caregiver to children. Do not forget to take care of your own health first. When you make your wellness and eye health a priority, you can be your very best for those around you (Source: Prevent Blindness).