Noida: Emphasising that neglecting eye health is a tendency often seen in women as they prioritise their family’s well-being over their own, Dr Reena Choudhry, COO and Medical Director, ICARE Eye Hospital, Noida, said that women are at a much higher risk of developing eye health problems compared to men and account for two-thirds of all cases of visual impairment observed in patients.
Ahead of the International Day of Action for Women’s Health, Dr Choudhry remarked, “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.”
Dr Choudhry finds it very 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,” she added.
It is important for women to also be aware of environmental hazards and take safety measures to protect their eyes. Dr Choudhry voiced, “Prolonged exposure to sunlight is a risk factor for cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, so the use of UV-protecting sunglasses and headgear like caps and hats is 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 a shield when doing household chores that are prone to injury, garden work, 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 the cornea, so is best avoided.”
While highlighting the impact of hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause on women’s eye health, Dr 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 are 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,” Dr Choudhry elaborated further.
She recommended using spectacles with blue-light filters to reduce the negative effect of digital screens on our vision. As per Dr Choudhry, frequent blinking and the use of artificial tears in the form of eye drops also help. A 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.