April is designated as Women’s Eye Safety and Eye Health Month, and we’ve found out some things that will really open your eyes!   Worldwide, an estimated 37 million people are blind and one hundred twenty-four million people have low vision.  Two-thirds of both blind and visually impaired people are women!  In the United States, there are estimated to be over one million legally blind people, and over 700,000 of them are women.  Women bear a larger burden than men in the U.S. and other industrialized countries, because, on average they outlive men.  However, adding to the disproportion, is the possibility of biological (perhaps hormonal or immunological) predisposition to some eye diseases known to be more prevalent in women.   Women who live in developing countries have less access to medical care, and therefore may contact more infectious diseases that are prevalent in females.

A major epidemiological survey in 2001 revealed that, worldwide, common eye diseases, such as autoimmune disease, dry eye syndrome, and certain forms of cataract are more prevalent in women than men.  Age-related afflictions such as macular degeneration and cataract also affect women more often than men.  Vision loss can be due to chronic disease, infection, uncorrected refractive error, trauma or congenital defect.   The good news for women and men is that three-quarters of blindness and vision loss is either preventable or treatable.  By having regular eye exams and living a healthy lifestyle, you can optimize your eye health.  The risk factors for premature death due to heart disease or cancer are the same as those for blindness and vision impairment.  These factors include smoking, excess weight, improper diet, lack of exercise and exposures to UV rays.  Knowing your family health history in relation to eye health is as important as any other facet of family history. 

There are certain eye problems that must be dealt with such as dry eye, eye redness, excessive watering of eyes, and pain in the eye, (throbbing, aching, or stabbing sensation.)  Seeing your ophthalmologist can solve many of these problems.  Other options to healthy eyes are as listed:

1.      Wear sunglasses or a hat with a brim when outside in sunlight;

2.      Adopt a healthy lifestyle;

3.      Know the warning signs of eye disease;

4.      Drink alcohol in moderation;

5.      Stop smoking or never start;

6.      Maintain a healthy body weight by eating a balanced diet;

7.      Exercise regularly;

8.      Schedule regular eye exams for yourself and the entire family. 

Women should wear eye protection when working with tools, metals or chemicals at home or work, the same as men.  Everyone should avoid being around pellet guns, bb guns, bows and arrows, toys with missiles and fireworks – these can cause serious eye injury.

So, ladies, take care of those beautiful eyes, and the eyes of everyone you love.    Make the most to improve eye health by both protecting your eyes from injury and keeping your body healthy.