Introduction to Women’s Eye Health and Safety

Introduction to Women’s Eye Health and Safety

Welcome to Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month! ‍♀️

We’re here to empower you to safeguard your (and your family’s) eye health.

Women’s eye health and safety

 

Did you know: Women are more likely than men to experience certain eye conditions than men?

This can be attributed, in part, to hormonal fluctuations throughout life.

But it’s not all doom and gloom!

By understanding the “why” behind this and some simple tips, you can keep your eyes sparkling and healthy.

 

The oestrogen connection to dry eye disease

Oestrogen is vital for your eye health.

It stimulates your lacrimal glands, responsible for producing the watery layer of your tears (shown below).

This water layer keeps your eyes lubricated, nourished, and fights off infection.

visual depiction of the three components of your eye's tear film

 

Issues can arise when your oestrogen levels fluctuate.

This happens during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, disrupting the delicate balance of your tear film.

In turn, this increases vulnerability to certain eye conditions like dry eye disease and blurry vision.

 

Beyond oestrogen: Additional risk factors for women

Oestrogen’s role in tear production is crucial, but it’s not the only player in women’s eye health.

In fact, women are more likely to experience conditions like Sjögren’s syndrome that cause dry eye, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma.

While these factors may seem daunting, there are plenty of preventative strategies for these conditions.

Read on for a detailed prevention plan.

 

Eye concerns by life stage: Your Roadmap to Healthy Vision 

Depending on your specific stage of life you will face unique challenges. Understanding these challenges is crucial to ensure optimal eye care for women.

Here’s a breakdown of common eye problems at different life stages and what to watch out for:

 

Childhood (Birth – 12 years):

The number of children with short sightedness, or myopia, is rapidly rising — a recent study found that over 28% of the global population is already affected.

Researchers believe this “myopia pandemic” is linked to less time spent outdoors during childhood development.

In addition to myopia, amblyopia (lazy eye) is also another developmental issue that needs to be addressed early for healthy vision later in life.

  • Symptoms to Look Out For: Frequent squinting, turning one eye inward or outward, difficulty seeing details at a distance.
  • Preventative Measures:
    • Studies suggest at least 1-2 hours of outdoor time for a child per day can slow or prevent the onset of myopia.
    • Schedule regular eye exams for your children, typically starting around age 3. Early detection and treatment are crucial for slowing myopia and treating amblyopia.

 

Adolescence (13 – 19 years):

Studies show a staggering 2-3 times more women experience dry eye than men.

This can lead to digital eye strain and contact lens discomfort.

  • Symptoms to Look Out For: Burning, redness, blurry vision, headaches after screen time.
  • Preventative Measures:

 

Pregnancy (20 – 40 years):

Some women experience dry eye and blurry vision due to pregnancy and vision changes. Though these are usually temporary, consulting an Ophthalmologist for a thorough check is always recommended.

  • Symptoms to Look Out For: Increased dryness, blurry vision (usually temporary), light sensitivity, sudden vision changes (flashes, floaters).
  • Preventative Measures:

 

Perimenopause & Menopause (40 – 65+ years):

As we age, the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) goes up – a leading cause of vision loss in adults.

So too, does the risk of glaucoma,  affecting 15% more women than men. This serious eye condition damages the optic nerve and can lead to vision loss if left untreated.

  • Symptoms to Look Out For: Difficult seeing in low light conditions, distorted vision with wavy lines or blurred areas, central vision loss (making it hard to read or recognise faces), blind spots.
  • Preventative Measures:
    • With eyesight and menopause, it’s best to act before symptoms to appear. Aim for annual eye exams, or more frequently if recommended by your Ophthalmologist.
    • Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Consider adding omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon and tuna to your diet. These nutrients can help protect your eyes from age-related damage.
    • If you’re experiencing blurred vision and menopause, don’t wait! See an Ophthalmologist immediately. Early intervention can significantly improve outcomes and preserve your vision.

 

       

      Essential eye health care tips

      Knowledge is power! Here are some key strategies to safeguard your vision:

       

      1) Schedule Regular Eye Exams

      Don’t wait for symptoms! Aim for annual exams, or more frequently if needed.

       

      2) Regularly Use Sun Protection

      Wear sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays to shield your eyes from sun damage, which can contribute to cataracts and macular degeneration later on in life.

       

      3) Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

      Eat a balanced diet rich in vitamins A, C, E, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which contribute to overall eye health.

       

      4) Manage Screen Time

      Give your eyes a break from digital devices like computers and smartphones. Use the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

       

      5) Practise Good Hygiene

      Avoid touching your eyes frequently and clean your makeup brushes regularly.

      This helps prevent the spread of bacteria that can cause eye infections.

       

      6) Know Your Family History

      If you have a family history of eye conditions like glaucoma or macular degeneration, discuss these risks with your doctor and be vigilant about regular eye exams.

       

      Conclusion

      By learning more about your eye health, you empower yourself to see clearly at every stage of your life.

      Stay tuned throughout Women’s Eye Health Month for more in-depth articles on specific eye conditions, maintaining eye health during pregnancy, and menopause and vision changes.

      Let’s celebrate the power of sight and prioritise healthy vision for all women!

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