Each month, we feature a post on eye health and eye care written by our very own Bôhten Optometrist Dr. Henry. Providing insight on the dos and don'ts of eye care is our way of educating our community with the hope of improving eye health overall.
Did you know certain eye conditions are more prevalent in women than men on a global scale? One major contributor to this is actually life expectancy as studies show women have a higher life expectancy than men. Therefore, age-related conditions are encountered more in women simply because they live longer. However, there are also other contributing factors such as hormones and access to health care that women have to look out for when it comes to their eye health. To round up our celebration of International Women's month, our in house optometrist Dr. Henry carefully outlines certain eye conditions predominantly found in women around the world.
Refractive errors or visual disorders are the leading cause of visual impairment globally and are actually more predominant in women than men. In the United States, older adults, women and minority groups such as Hispanics and African Americans are the most susceptible to visual impairment due to uncorrected refractive errors. Refractive errors however are easily correctable with a comprehensive eye examination and subsequent ophthalmic, contact lens or surgical intervention.
Dry Eye Disease
Dry eye disease is another ocular disease that mostly affects women. It is characterized by symptoms of ocular discomfort, dryness, fluctuating vision, and sensitivity to light progressing with age. Dry eye can occur due to tear film deficiency, increased evaporation of existing tears, or a combination of both. Sex hormones also play a part in Dry eye disease, with low androgen levels associated with dry eye symptoms and higher testosterone levels associated with meibomian gland dropout. Changes in estrogen levels during the menstrual cycle or during menopause also negatively impact symptoms of dry eye.
Cataract is one of the leading causes of visual impairment worldwide. It is strongly correlated with age and sex, largely affecting more women than men. Despite limitations of access to surgery in many countries though, more women have cataract surgery done than men. This may be explained in part by women’s greater ability to express visual complaints affecting their lifestyle as well as their greater tendency to seek health care advice.
Glaucoma eye disease is more prominent in women and with age. For women, it is believed declining levels of estrogen during menopause may render the optic nerve more vulnerable to glaucomatous damage. Although studies are needed to fully understand the role of sex hormones in glaucoma, estrogen has been associated with increased ocular blood flow and decreased intraocular pressure, providing neuroprotective properties to the optic nerve.
Trachoma is an infection with Chlamydia trachomatis, and is the leading cause of infectious blindness in the world. Although it is treatable with antibiotics and surgery, access to these therapies may not be available in developing countries. It is in these environments where women are at three times greater risk than men to be blinded by the infection.
Written by our in-house Optometrist Dr. Henry.