Women's Eye Health Month

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Today, of the 3.4 million Americans suffering from visual impairment, about 2.3 million are women, and those that fall into the legally blind category, 70 percent of them are women. Much of the vision loss is the result of age-related conditions due to women living longer than men, making them more at risk for vision diseases like macular degeneration, which is a disease which affects the central vision.

There are several other eye issues that affect girls and women more than boys and men. Those being dry eye syndrome and eye infections. Dry eye syndrome is caused by changes in hormones during a woman's life, which affects the tear gland and eye surface more drastically. If gone untreated, this can lead to severe damage to the cornea. Additionally, women are more likely to wear make-up which is associated with eye infections as well as from increased use of the common acne medication, isoretinoin in young women.

The age-related eye conditions are due to women tending to live longer than men and therefore making them more at risk for vision diseases like macular degeneration, which is a disease that affects the central vision. 

"Many causes of eyesight problems are preventable," according to Dr. Sandy T. Feldman of Clearview Eye & Laser Medical Center. "By having regular eye exams and living a healthy lifestyle, women can optimize their eye health," the doctor stated. Some attributing vision risk factors include, smoking, cholesterol, poor diet, lack of exercise, and obesity. "Smoking is linked to the development of macular degeneration and even second hand smoke can affect the eyes. Women need to realize that not only do annual eye examinations drastically decrease the risks for vision problems, but if there are any issues, they are more treatable when detected at an early stage," Feldman stated.  

Studies have shown that good nutrition also supports healthy eyes. Eating a variety of healthy foods that include Omega-3 oils (found in some fish) along with an intake balance of flax seed and walnuts, all contribute to maintaining healthy vision. There are also multivitamins and specific supplements that aid in overall good eye-sight and reducing the progression of disease. "Your diet is not the only contributing factor to having and keeping healthy vision," Feldman commented. Physical activity helps overall health and can reduce the chance of developing diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure, which can definitely affect the eyes.  

"Getting the message out to women, that the health of their eyes deserves some attention is important to maintain their clear view of the world," stated Dr. Feldman.