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When it comes to vision health, men and women are not looking eye to eye.
The truth is that females are more likely to develop several common, yet serious, eye conditions compared to their male counterparts.
The good news is, if you focus on a healthy lifestyle and routine eye exams, things may be looking up.
Let’s peek at several eye disorders and diseases more frequently diagnosed among women than men and why.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in seniors in the United States. This slow-moving disease of the retina blurs the sharp, central vision needed to see fine details and perform activities that require “straight-ahead” vision like reading and driving.
The risk of developing AMD increases with age, and because women tend to live an average of 5-7 years longer than men, they face a higher likelihood of experiencing AMD.
Common Symptoms of AMD
At its earliest stage, AMD is only noticeable to eye care professionals. As the disease progresses, patients notice blurring of their central vision (wet AMD) or distortion or curving of straight lines (dry AMD).
Treatment of AMD
The earlier AMD is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome. Laser therapy to seal off leaking blood vessels can slow the onset of vision loss in cases of wet AMD. However, no effective treatment currently exists for dry AMD.
Having a family member with AMD will increase your risk, but research shows your lifestyle can also make a difference.
You may be able to avoid AMD by
- Not smoking
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and
- Eating a healthy diet rich in green, leafy vegetables and fish.
(If you’re familiar with our blogs, you know that those habits also promote healthy smiles.)
A cataract is like a cloud on the lens of your eye. They are caused by aging cells that clump together, turn yellow, and eventually block out the light, making it difficult to see clearly.
As we age, many of us develop cataracts, but they are more prevalent in women.
Common Symptoms of Cataracts
Cataracts tend to start small and get bigger over time. Some red flags to watch out for include:
- Clouded, blurred or dim vision
- Increasing difficulty seeing at night
- Sensitivity to light and glare
- Double vision in a single eye.
Treatment of Cataracts
An annual eye exam is the best way to diagnose and treat cataracts before they steal your vision. In their early stages, cataracts are treated with prescriptive lenses, magnification and improved lighting. As they grow, they can be removed surgically.
Itchy, gritty and burning eyes? You may be suffering from dry-eye disease. The condition is the result of inadequate tear production to lubricate your eyes.
Many external and environmental factors can cause dry eyes, such as
- extended screen time
- air conditioning and heating
- pollen, cat dander and other allergens.
With age, the condition tends to worsen, especially among women during and after menopause.
Common Symptoms of Dry-Eye
- Itchy eyes
- Burning eyes
- A gritty sensation in the eyes
- Blurred vision
- Aggravation of the symptoms as the day goes on.
Treatment of Dry-Eye
Prescription-strength or over-the-counter artificial tears are the primary treatment. Hot compresses and even regular eye exercises can also provide some relief.
Your eye doctor can recommend specific products, procedures, and, possibly, additional treatment options.
Glaucoma is a sneaky disease that slowly affects the cells that make up your optic nerve, beginning with your peripheral vision. It can steal your ability to drive or do other activities that require awareness of objects to your right and left.
Women who enter menopause at an earlier-than-average age have a higher risk of developing glaucoma in life.
Other risk factors for glaucoma include
- Age 60 and older
- African-American ancestry
- Family history of glaucoma
- Diabetes, heart disease or hypertension
- Use of steroids for prolonged periods
- Eye injuries.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
Chronic open angle glaucoma (COAG) is responsible for most cases of glaucoma. In the early stages of the disease, there are often no warning signs. An eye care professional is often the first to diagnose glaucoma in a patient.
Treatment of Glaucoma
When caught early, most cases of glaucoma can be controlled and vision loss slowed or halted with medication, laser treatments and/or surgery. That’s why regular eye exams are so important. However, without treatment, glaucoma can lead to blindness.
Vision Insurance—Just Like That
With dental and vision insurance, you’re more likely to visit your dentist and eye care provider for regular check-ups to keep your smiles and eyesight healthy. Since 1982, we’ve made it our mission to improve the oral health of Arkansas, and we care about their eyes and hearing, too.
Check out our affordable dental and vision coverage plans that also include a discount hearing benefit.
Whether you’re an individual seeking insurance for yourself or your whole family or the owner of a small or mid-and large-size group, you’ll find several options to fit your budget and needs with access to one of the state’s largest networks of providers. We look forward to welcoming you into the Delta Dental of Arkansas family.