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Monthly Observances May
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May is Healthy Vision Month


 Women Face Higher Risk of Blindness Than Men 


Studies show there is a gender gap in eye disease. Women are more likely than men to suffer from sight-threatening conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, and glaucoma.(1) In support of Healthy Vision Month in May, the Arkansas Ophthalmological Society and the American Academy of Ophthalmology remind women to make vision a top priority.  

Women make up 65 percent of AMD cases; 61 percent of glaucoma and cataract patients are women, and 66 percent of blind patients are women.(2) Why the inequity? There are a few theories. On average women live longer and many eye problems are age-related. Some eye conditions, such as dry eye, are more common in women, young and old. Social and economic factors affect women’s access to eye care, especially in developing countries. 

Whatever the cause, there are a few unique vision problems women need to watch out for more than men. Dry eye occurs at double the rate in postmenopausal women.(3) In general, women are more susceptible to autoimmune diseases than men, many of which affect vision, such as lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome and hyperthyroiditis. Also, pregnancy can cause vision changes due to the hormones pregnant women experience. 

Good news is most vision loss is preventable. The Academy offers five simple steps to take control of your eye health today: 

  • Get a comprehensive medical eye exam at age 40.
  • Know your family history. 
  • Eat healthy foods. 
  • Stop smoking.
  • Wear sunglasses 

"Eye exams aren’t only about checking a person's visual acuity or sharpness, but also determining the overall health of their eyes,” said Rebecca J. Taylor, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "We encourage women as well as men to get regular eye care. By making vision a priority today, we can help protect our sight as we age.” 

To learn more ways to keep your eyes healthy, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® website.  

1. National Eye Institute
2. National Eye Institute
3. Am J Ophthalmol. 2003 Aug;136(2):318-26.