Women’s Eye Health

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August 11th, 2016 8:46pm

“More women than men have cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration, according to a recent study by Prevent Blindness,” Sarah Hecker, director of media relations, said by email, per the 2014 report, “The Future of Vision: Forecasting the Prevalence and Costs of Vision Problems.” “And, more women than men have dry eye syndrome. Those numbers will only continue to rise as the U.S. population ages.”

During pregnancy, some women experience vision issues, Hecker said, including refractive changes that can affect the strength of a woman’s eyeglasses or contact lens, puffy eyelids that can interfere with peripheral vision, migraine headaches that can cause a sensitivity to light, diabetes that can result in blurred vision, and pregnancy-induced hypertension that can cause blurred vision and seeing spots.

“Prevent Blindness recommends everyone … receive regular eye exams,” Hecker said. “At age 40, it is recommended that everyone get a baseline, dilated eye exam, so that doctors can monitor the eyes for any changes.”

Brian Powell, an optometrist with Southern Dutchess Eyecare in Fishkill and president of the Hudson Valley Optometric Association, said many eye difficulties occur as a result of aging and because there are more older women than men, women are primary candidates for eye health issues.

“Cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy manifest more as people get older and women live longer,” said Powell, who also is a trustee for the New York State Optometric Association.

Powell said women’s changing hormones and lifestyles can create eye problems, especially after menopause when dry eye in women increases, either from hormonal fluctuations or effects from supplements taken to reduce menopause’s off-putting symptoms.

Vision problems

•Nearsightedness or myopia, where close objects are clearer than distant ones, happens when the cornea is too long and often is diagnosed in childhood. Farsightedness, when distant objects are clearer than close ones, result from a flattened cornea and is called presbyopia when it develops from result aging.

•Cataracts occur with age and result when fibers in the eye’s lens no longer line up properly, clouding vision. Excessive delay in cataract removal can hamper depth perception, clarity and night vision, plus obstruct other eye conditions and lead to a possible rupture, hindering the cataract’s removal.

•Glaucoma has a familial link and relates to a build-up of pressure in the eye, compromising cell health and causing reduced eyesight or loss of vision. Often the pressure isn’t felt, with an unnoticed loss of minor peripheral vision, earning glaucoma the tag — the silent thief of sight.

•Macular degeneration generally afflicts seniors and relates to malformations in the retina that cause a separation of its layers, significantly reducing vision. The condition can leave people unable to read or recognize faces, leading to feelings of disconnectedness and depression.

•Uncontrolled diabetes, a systemic condition, can cause blood vessels to leak fluid, resulting in dot hemorrhages in the eye. More serious is the possible build-up of fluid, which can blur vision.

•Uveitis relates to the swelling of the iris and can mimic bacterial conjunctivitis, but is from an inflammatory disorder, such as Lyme disease.

Source: Brian Powell, optometrist, Southern Dutchess Eyecare; president, Hudson Valley Optometric Association; trustee, New York State Optometric Association

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