We give life.
We do it all.
We're also more likely to lose our vision!
Why are women at higher risk?
There are a number of health factors and differences between men and women that put women at greater risk of serious vision loss; two-thirds of Americans with vision impairment are women.
Because women live longer than men, they’re more likely to develop age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts, all of which can cause uncorrectable vision loss. In addition, due to hormonal fluctuations during the life cycle, women may experience changes in their vision.
Some eye conditions are intrinsically more common in women, such as dry eye syndrome, which may be caused by birth control pills and menopause. It may also be due to autoimmune diseases like Sjögren’s Syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and multiple sclerosis.
Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for post-menopausal women, can also have vascular side effects like blood clots and stroke, which may directly or indirectly cause vision problems or loss. Women on HRT may also be at an increased risk for cataracts. As with any medication or supplement, there are benefits and risks; always consult with your doctor before taking anything.
Pregnancy may lead to changes in a woman’s refraction (lens prescriptions), dry eye syndrome, migraines that can cause visual disturbances and light sensitivity, and worsening of diabetic retinopathy, if she’s diabetic. Those who develop gestational diabetes have a 40-60% chance of developing diabetes in the next 5-10 years, posing a serious risk because it can lead to legal blindness.
Pregnant women experiencing blurry vision or other vision problems such as seeing spots may have a more serious problem like high blood pressure and diabetes. Women taking fertility drugs may also have blurry vision. If you’re having any of these problems, see your eye doctor immediately.
Women undergoing some chemotherapy and radiation treatments for breast cancer — or for any cancer — may experience dry, itchy eyes; cataracts; and even vision loss. In addition, medications such as Tamoxifin, which is used to prevent and treat breast cancer, may have vascular side effects like blood clots and stroke, which can directly or indirectly cause vision problems or loss as well. Tamoxifin may also put women at an increased risk for cataracts. As with any treatment and medication, there are benefits and risks; always consult with your doctor before taking anything or beginning treatment.
Every woman, especially those who are pregnant, planning to get pregnant or diabetic, should get a comprehensive, dilated eye exam. Regular dilated exams are essential to prevention, early detection of eye disease — and to keeping you and your eyes healthy.
Smoking Significantly Increases the Risk of AMD
While men smoke more than women, women may find it harder to quit for a few reasons, one of them possibly being the increased use of cigarettes for weight control (according to the Centers for Disease Control). Regardless of gender, smoking doubles the risk for age-related macular degeneration, which makes reading and seeing faces ― including your own ― difficult. Quit today!