Did you know that women make up the majority of the 4.4 million Americans age 40 and older who are visually impaired or blind? In response to this growing problem, Prevent Blindness has, in their words, “designated April as Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month in an effort to educate women about the steps they can take today to help preserve their vision in the future.” Our staff are also taking steps to share information about women’s eye health this season, as we know all too well how much any change in vision can impact the lives of our patients.
Why is Women’s Eye Health An Important Subject?
According to Prevent Blindness, more women than men have age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. These are all diseases that cannot be cured, but which can be addressed and lessened with early treatment and care. And before care can be administered, an eye exam is needed to diagnose the problem.
Yet, according to online research, as many as one in four women have not received an eye exam in the past two years. Surveys also indicate that 86 percent of women incorrectly believe that men and women are equally likely to develop certain eye problems. In reality, women generally live longer than men, and also have hormonal fluctuations during their lives that negatively affect their eyes. These two factors mean women are more likely to develop eye problems than men.
Why Are Women Missing Appointments?
Eye exams are any patient’s best resource in obtaining good eye care - so why are so many women potentially missing appointments? In the online study, respondents reported that the cost of vision care and exams was their number one reason for not going to the doctor. This answer was provided regardless of whether or not the individual had vision insurance.
People also cited were transportation issues and their busy schedules as reasons why they were unable to make it to their eye doctors for regular exams.
Is This A Serious Problem?
Any online study needs to be taken with a grain of salt, and is ideally followed-up on with official studies to provide more accurate data. However, even if more information is needed, we take these findings very seriously. Other polls and research have suggested that less than 10 percent of American women realize that women are at a greater risk of suffering permanent vision loss than men. Combined with the possibility that women are missing key appointment, this means that patients across the country may be missing important opportunities to take care of their eyes.
What Can Be Done About This Issue?
To help address this issue, we recommend that women begin committing to keeping regular eye exams in their planner. Friends and relatives can help by reminding their loved ones to visit their doctors.
We also recommend the following to all of our patients:
- Quit smoking, as it can contribute to the risk of eye disease.
- Take supplements, if approved by a doctor, to support your vision’s overall health.
- Know your family history - many eye diseases have a genetic component.
- Be aware of possible vision changes during a pregnancy, and work with doctors to monitor your eyes during that time.
- Wear UV-blocking sunglasses and a brimmed hat outdoors to reduce UV exposure, as it can contribute to the development of certain eye problems.
These actions can go a long way in helping you see clearly for years to come. If you are ready to make an appointment, or you have any specific questions we can address, contact us today to ask about available appointments with our team.