Globally, vision loss is becoming a rising concern. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over two billion people suffer from some degree of vision loss. While this health concern is prevalent among both sexes, statistics have found that women are more at risk of developing this condition. In Canada alone, recent studies have determined that as women age, fewer of them report having good vision without correction. This trend is especially significant in women aged 40 to 55, whose self-reported eye health dips even further than their male counterparts. This supports other reports that reveal that, worldwide, one in four women is at risk of vision impairment and loss.
Fortunately, eye health issues like vision impairment and eventual loss are preventable.
Why women have poorer eye health
The first leading reason behind this is that women tend to live longer. The average Canadian female’s lifespan is nearly 85, which is four years more than a man’s. Vision issues are more common among older adults because risk factors tend to increase with age, too. For instance, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is more common among seniors because this demographic suffers from more AMD risk factors like hypertension.
Another primary reason is hormones. From the start of menstruation up until menopause, women undergo regular hormonal fluctuations, which can cause ocular irritations. Even hormone-regulating medications like birth control are known to cause side effects related to vision, like optic neuropathy. Of course, there are other reasons why women are more prone to vision loss, but it must be noted that these leading ones are often out of a woman’s control. What is in a woman’s control is what she can do to help prevent vision loss, and here are a few ways to do so.
How to cut down your risk of vision loss
Wear protective eyewear
For most people, eyewear is a corrective measure to be taken when there are already issues. However, it does pay to invest in proactively wearing protective eyewear. Case in point, blue light glasses are beneficial in today’s digital age since overexposure to blue light can cause ocular issues like dryness, strain, and nerve damage. The aforementioned glasses can help filter this harmful light away. While blue light glasses can come with a prescription, they can also be applied on regular glasses and worn throughout the day. This is helpful given that Statistics Canada found that most women have increased their overall screen time by nearly 70%.
Aside from this, regularly wearing sunglasses is helpful. As outlined by experts, UV damage can cause serious burns on the eyes, and this is called photokeratitis. This condition can manifest in many significant ways, including vision loss. Repeated occurrences can lead to the development of conditions like AMD. Sunglasses, though, can block out up to 100% of rays so long as they are coated with a UV-blocking filter.
Get regular eye exams
There are several sex-specific medical exams that women know to undergo regularly, like cervical cancer screenings. However, one that is easier to push aside is an eye exam despite how ocular damage can accumulate. As such, eye exams are among the top health checks women must prioritize. As you age, you may want to visit your optician more frequently, but that also depends on your present lifestyle. Even a young woman with relatively good vision must see her eye doctor if her current circumstances put a strain on her eyes. For instance, if you are a field worker who spends long hours under the sweltering sun, you should be checked more often for any budding UV damage.
Adopt eye-friendly habits
Proper eye health needs to be well-rounded. One habit to take up is practicing better sleep hygiene. Sleep specialists from the University of British Columbia recently shared that women tend to suffer from insomnia more. Consistently lacking sleep can cause eye irritations and bump up the risk of conditions like glaucoma. To improve your sleep, treat your bedtime as a sacred routine. Avoid using your gadgets at least 30 minutes prior so that your body eases itself into rest. Sensory triggers like white noise machines and relaxing fragrances can also calm the mind and help regulate the circadian rhythm.
Another holistic habit that can better the eyes is related to a balanced diet. For instance, fish like tuna are rich in Omega-3s. These fatty acids decrease the risk of vision problems, including AMD and cataracts. Similarly, produce like leafy greens and stone fruit have beta-carotene. This is among the most essential vitamins for women since they can aid eyesight, tissue, and skin. Finally, eating a balanced diet can also help fight off other conditions like diabetes, which are known to have secondary manifestations that impact vision.