April is Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month

Prevent Blindness America (PBA) has designated April as Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month in an effort to educate women about the steps they can take today to help preserve vision in the future.

More women than men face vision problems

Awareness is the key to educating women on why vision problems can directly impact their health.

Women are More Likely to Develop Dry Eye than Men

Dry Eye Syndrome, a painful condition that can impair vision and increase the risk of eye infection, affects millions of Americans.  Dry Eye is actually a group of disorders caused by the inability to produce enough tears with sufficient lubrication.  Symptoms can include burning or itchy eyes as well as increased eye mucus and a gritty or scratchy feeling on the eyes.  Severe cases may even include corneal scarring or ulcers.    Dry Eye is one of the leading causes of visits to eye care professionals.  Treatment options vary from eye drops and ointments to some types of surgery.

The highly prevalent nature of this disease and the loss of quality of life associated with it make it an important health concern. Risk factors for developing this disease include increased age, environmental exposure to irritants, and—one of the most important—sex.

Women are also more likely to develop Dry Eye.  Approximately 6 million have moderate to severe symptoms of dry eye syndrome, as compared to 3 million men, according to the National Women’s Health Resource Center.*

Women who are pregnant, on certain types of birth control, or experiencing menopause have increased rates of Dry Eye.  In fact, according to the National Eye Institute, women who are on hormone replacement therapy are also more likely to experience symptoms.  Women taking only estrogen are 70 percent more likely to experience Dry Eye, and those taking estrogen and progesterone have a 30 percent increased risk of developing the condition.

Here are tips on helping to avoid irritation from Dry Eye:

  • Use a humidifier to keep natural moisture in the air
  • Avoid hair dryers, harsh winds, overly warm rooms and cigarette smoke
  • When outdoors, wear goggles or sunglasses that wrap around the
  • eyes
  • Use drops of artificial tears, if directed by your doctor, especially in climates with low humidity, in air conditioned environments, and in airplanes or cars when the heater or defroster is on
  • When using a computer, remember to blink often and give eyes a rest from staring at the screen
  • Apply a warm washcloth to soothe irritated eyes
  • Do not use harsh soaps or cleansers on around the eye area

For more information on Dry Eye or other eye diseases or conditions with higher incidence rates in women, please contact Prevent Blindness Ohio at 800-301-2020 or visit www.pbohio.org.