It’s a fact, significantly more women than men deal with eye related problems over their lifetime. It may be easy to guess why but I think it is important to fully understand so you can do something about it now.
- Hormones – you name the time; Birth control, pregnancy, breast feeding, menopause, hormone supplement or replacements, fertility drugs, and certain cancers specific to women all cause hormone shift which in turn negatively affect our eyes.
- Life Expectancy – women generally live longer than men. As a result, we have longer exposure to the environmental triggers that contribute to eye diseases.
- Risk for Autoimmune Diseases – as a whole, the risk is higher in women than in men. These are diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren’s syndrome that all can cause negative impacts on the eyes.
Tools to help preserve and enhance your vision
· See your Optometrist for a preventive, comprehensive eye exam.
o Should be every 1-2 years depending on your specific circumstances.
· Take an Omega-3 Supplement.
o Although the use of multivitamins can be controversial, the use of Omega-3 supplements show overwhelming evidence to support the health of the ocular surface and help with dry eye.
§ Ask your doctor for a specific recommendation. They are not all created equal! It is important to understand the quality of the supplement as factors like taste, freshness, purity, mercury levels and systemic adsorption can all impact results.
· Wear your sunglasses!!!
o All the time when the sun is up. When we are outside our eyes are exposed to the harmful effects of UV light. One important little known fact is the risk of sun exposure problems for our eyes is worse when the sun is coming up and when it is going down. This is due to the angle of the sun and the direct hit to our eyes rather than when it is directly overhead and our facial features help control impact.
· If you smoke….QUIT!
o Many eye diseases are more severe and progress quicker in smokers.
· Don’t over wear your contact lenses.
o Have back up glasses to give your eyes a break
o Throw them out exactly as your doctor prescribed them – there are many reasons why contact lenses have a replacement schedule and patient comfort alone can’t be trusted.
· Eat a healthy diet with many dark green pigmented vegetables. These foods are good, natural sources of vitamins and minerals that help you maintain healthy vision.
Women do have increased likelihood to see their doctor and communicate openly about signs and symptoms. In many diseases, early detection and treatment can lessen the impact and create better overall eye health. Looking forward to seeing you in the office!
By: Tina McCarty, OD, FAAO