Have you ever thought about why so many of the eye health clinical studies performed by research institutions like the National Eye Institute are conducted specifically on women? The reason is simple—women are more susceptible than men to eye diseases and conditions.

Prevent Blindness America points out that more women than men are diagnosed with glaucoma, cataracts, dry eye syndrome, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration—since they typically outlive men. Women may also experience additional changes in vision, dry eye for example, if on certain types of birth control, during their pregnancy, when experiencing post-menopause, and taking hormone replacement therapy.

While today’s women have become well aware that they are more likely than men to suffer from serious health issues like osteoporosis and heart attacks, there’s a lack of public knowledge when it comes to eye health. Even more unknown is the astonishing statistics. According to Women’s Eye, of the 3.4 million Americans suffering from visual impairment, about 2.3 million are women. In fact, the organization states that two-thirds of blindness and visual impairment occurs in women.

It’s especially disappointing that the optometric industry has not done a better job of getting the word out about women’s eye health to the general public during a time when the industry is experiencing an increase in the number of women who are entering the optometric profession. Statistics released from the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry even revealed approximately 65% of optometric students enrolled in 2008-2009 were female!

However, Prevent Blindness America is taking steps in the right direction by designating April as Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month in an effort to encourage women to make their vision health a priority and schedule a dilated eye exam. I encourage you to make a conscientious effort this month to help raise awareness. Both Prevent Blindness America and Women’s Eye are helping you do this by having free information and promotional material readily available to get the word out.

The visual impairment conditions that are susceptible to women can be preventable or treatable so providing education with the proper eyecare services is pivotal. It all starts with you making sure you don’t lose sight of your female patients.


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