Women need a sharp focus on eye health, experts say
A recent study by Prevent Blindness America (PBA) found that women experience age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy in greater numbers than men. The four conditions are the leading eye diseases among Americans.
According to PBA, of the more than 4 million Americans age 40 and older who have vision impairments or are blind, 2.6 million of those are women. Research suggests that the numbers are higher among women for two reasons–hormonal factors and because women generally live longer than men.
Vision experts say the study is a good reminder for everyone, especially women to get regular eye exams.
Dr. Harit K. Bhatt, an ophthalmologist and vitreoretinal surgeon at Advocate Christ Medical Center, in Oak Lawn, Ill., says discovering vision problems sooner than later, is essential to keeping your vision strong.
“It’s important for everyone over 40 years of age to have a comprehensive eye exam that includes dilation,” he says. “Dilation of the eye is done using eye drops and allows proper examination of the retina.”
Dr. Bhatt said certain vision problems, especially ARMD are not painful and may be easy to miss.
“ARMD causes no pain,” Dr. Bhatt says. “While the surface and front part of the eye has the ability to signal pain, the macula, or central part of the retina that allows the eye to see fine details, generally does not. This is what makes this disease challenging because it delays the time patients visit their doctor.”
But there are symptoms to watch for, Dr. Bhatt says. If you are experiencing any of the following, it’s critical to make an appointment with your eye care doctor:
- Excessively watery eyes
- Double vision
- Distorted images
- Blind spot in center
- Trouble focusing in dim light
- Ghosting or spots in your view
- Flashes/Floaters/Shadow in your vision
- Eye pain
He also says that prevention is key. In addition to scheduling regular eye exams, Dr. Bhatt says, knowing your family history is important along with eating a healthy diet rich in vegetables, maintaining a proper weight, avoiding smoking and consistently wearing sunglasses that block UV rays.
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