Women’s Higher Risk for Some Eye Diseases

Women are more likely than men to have glaucoma and women are also more likely to be visually impaired or blind due to glaucoma. Also, women are 24 percent less likely to be treated for glaucoma. Cataract is somewhat more common in women, as well. Women should be sure to follow the Academy’s screening guidelines and adhere to their Eye M.D.’s follow-up appointment recommendations and treatment plans.

Dry Eye

Woman

This uncomfortable condition becomes more common as people age. Women are more susceptible after menopause due to hormonal changes, but incidence also increases for men as they grow older. It is usually treated with over-the-counter or prescription eye lubricants. If dry eye is severe, surgery to reduce tear drainage may be needed.

  • If you have contact lenses, follow the use guidelines and avoid wearing lenses longer than recommended. If dry eye persists, talk to your Eye M.D. about possible treatments.
  • Discuss dry eye treatment with your Eye M.D. if planning to have LASIK or other refractive surgery.
  • Some medications increase dry eye. If you are taking pain relievers, antidepressants, antihistamines, or have questions about your medications, talk with your Eye M.D.
  • Some research suggests that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) may reduce or help prevent dry eye.
  • Find more tips in Computer Use and Eye Strain.
  • Protect eyes with wrap-around sunglasses and avoid smoky, arid, dusty or windy conditions.

Systemic Health Problems

Systemic health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes that may be diagnosed or become more problematic in midlife can also affect eye health. One warning sign of both high blood pressure and diabetes is when the ability to see clearly changes frequently. Be sure to keep your Eye M.D. informed about your health conditions and use of medications and nutritional supplements, as well as your exercise, eating, sleeping and other lifestyle choices.

Exercise

Our eyes need good blood circulation and oxygen intake, and both are stimulated by regular exercise. Regular exercise also helps keep our weight in the normal range, which reduces the risk of diabetes and of diabetic retinopathy. Gentler exercise, including walking, yoga, tai chi, or stretching and breathing, can also be effective ways to keep healthy. Remember to use sun safety and protective eyewear when enjoying sports and recreation.

Sleep

As we sleep, our eyes enjoy continuous lubrication. Also during sleep the eyes clear out irritants such as dust, allergens, or smoke that may have accumulated during the day.

Some research suggests that light-sensitive cells in the eye are important to our ability to regulate our wake-sleep cycles. This becomes more crucial as we age, when more people have problems with insomnia. While it’s important that we protect our eyes from over-exposure to UV light, our eyes also need exposure to some natural light every day to help maintain normal sleep-wake cycles.

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