Two-third of all cases of visual impairment are found in women

Dr Reena Choudhry of ICARE Eye Hospital speaks on eye health

Common eye diseases such as dry eyes, cataracts, glaucoma, age- related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy are more prevalent in women. Photo Nathan Defiesta on Unsplash

Neglecting eye health is a tendency often seen in women as they prioritize their family’s well-being over their own. They are at a much higher risk of developing eye health problems compared to men, and account for two-third of all cases of visual impairment observed in patients. This was said by Dr. Reena Choudhry, COO & medical director, ICARE Eye Hospital, Noida, ahead of the International Day of Action for Women’s Health.

Dr Reena Choudhry said, “Common eye diseases such as dry eyes, cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy are more prevalent in women. Furthermore, women’s longer lifespan compared to men also makes them more vulnerable to age-related eye diseases. Hormonal changes, migraines, and other factors can also impact women’s eye health. It is common for women to neglect routine eye examinations and avoid visits to eye doctors due to lack of time, multiple responsibilities at home, and being caregivers for children and elderly family members. It is vital to raise awareness among women about their higher risk of eye diseases. I urge all women to undergo regular eye exams and seek timely treatment if diagnosed with any eye problem.”

The doctor said it is important for women to also be aware of environmental hazards and take safety measures to protect their eyes. “Prolonged exposure to sunlight is a risk factor for cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, so the use of UV-protecting sunglasses and headgears like caps and hats are highly recommended. Pollution is another contributor to dry eyes and allergic conjunctivitis, hence regular cleansing of eyes using artificial eye drops is crucial. Eye trauma can have a very serious effect on one’s vision. Women should protect the eyes with safety glasses or shield when doing household chores that is prone to injury, gardenwork, contact sports, or working on a job that involves flying debris, sparks, or chemicals. Vigorously rubbing the eyes can lead to changes in eye power and the shape of cornea, so is best avoided.”

Talking about the impact of hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause on women’s eye health, Dr Reena Choudhry said: “Puberty can lead to frequent changes in eye power in some young girls, necessitating regular eye examinations. Pregnancy and menopause are often associated with an increased risk of eye power changes and dry-eye syndrome.”

According to the doctor, age-related conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, dry eyes, and macular degeneration are also more common among women than men. Maintaining a healthy diet along with regular exercise and good sleep can reduce the risk. Regular eye exams and timely treatment is recommended if diagnosed with any of these conditions.

“Digital vision syndrome, which is very prevalent today, can lead to dry eye disease and eye strain because of muscle weakness and changes in the ocular surface. Women are more prone to this condition, which can be worsened by age-related hormonal problems like menopause.

Following the 20-20-20 rule, where a 20-second break is suggested after every 20 minutes of work on the screen by looking at an object 20 feet away, helps relax the eyes. Using spectacles with blue-light filters can reduce the negative effect of digital screens on our vision. Frequent blinking and use of artificial tears in the form of eye drops also helps. Warm eye compress with a towel soaked in warm water can relax the eye muscles and improve tear production, thus relieving some dry eye symptoms,” Dr. Reena Choudhry said.


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