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Vision is a crucial sense among the five senses we possess but the rise of digital eye strain has worsened eye problems like cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy in today’s society, making them major causes of blindness and visual impairment worldwide. It is worth noting that women are more susceptible to developing these eye conditions due to both biological and social factors but prompt treatment can help prevent women from experiencing vision problems or blindness.

Watch out for these biological and social factors causing eye problems in women (Image by 8photo on Freepik)

Dr Sneha Shah, Ophthalmologist and Facial Aesthetic Surgeon at Lilavati Hospital, shared, “Eye problems in women can be attributed to both biological and social factors. Biological changes, such as hormonal fluctuations during menopause, menstruation, pregnancy and lactation, play a significant role. For instance, estrogen serves as a protective factor for the eyes, making women more vulnerable to eye issues after menopause. Pregnancy can also lead to changes in tissue elasticity, affecting refractive errors in nearsighted women. Additionally, gestational diabetes may accelerate the progression of diabetic retinopathy.”

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She explained, “While these biological factors cannot be altered, raising awareness and promoting timely intervention among women can help address these issues effectively. In the realm of social factors, a complex web of elements such as poverty, gender disparities, inadequate nutrition, and limited access to education and healthcare services all interact to shape people’s lives. Gender inequity further compounds these challenges by hindering educational opportunities for women and setting off a chain reaction of consequences. The resulting loss of autonomy contributes to economic hardship and eventually malnourishment. Furthermore, many women are not allowed to make choices about their well-being.”

Dr Sneha Shah added, “Women are at a higher risk of developing certain eye issues compared to men, highlighting the need for specialised treatment tailored to their unique requirements. Whether it’s vision changes during pregnancy or an increased vulnerability to conditions like dry eye, women’s eye health demands specific attention. By scheduling regular eye check-ups and intervening early, the quality of life for women can be significantly enhanced by addressing potential problems before they escalate or cause irreversible harm. Spreading awareness about the significance of maintaining good eye health among women can empower them to proactively safeguard their vision and overall well-being.”

She adbised, “Taking a holistic approach that factors in elements such as hormonal fluctuations, lifestyle choices, and genetic predispositions is crucial for delivering effective treatment for various eye concerns in women. Understanding how visual impairments can impact daily activities, emotional wellness, and independence underscores the importance of prioritizing comprehensive and gender-sensitive interventions to enhance women’s eye health outcomes. Equipping women with knowledge about common risk factors linked to specific eye diseases allows them to make informed choices regarding their visual health maintenance practices.”

Bringing her expertise to the same, Dr Nusrat Bukhari, Opthalmologist at Apollo Spectra Mumbai, revealed, “Studies show there is a gender gap in eye disease. Women are more likely than men to suffer from sight-threatening conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, and glaucoma. Women make up 65 percent of AMD cases; 61 percent of glaucoma and cataract patients are women, and 66 percent of blind patients are women. there are a few unique vision problems women need to watch out for more than men. Dry eye occurs at double the rate in postmenopausal women.”

Echoing that biological and social factors are the culprits behind the prevalence of eye problems when it comes to females, she highlighted, “Biological reasons such as hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause can impact eye health, leading to conditions such as dry eyes and vision changes. Genetic predispositions to certain eye diseases like glaucoma or macular degeneration can also contribute to the higher incidence of eye problems in women. On the social front, factors such as unequal access to healthcare services and lower rates of seeking preventative care can result in undiagnosed or untreated eye conditions among women.”

The health expert opined, “Prioritising family responsibilities over personal health may also deter women from seeking timely eye exams or treatment. Addressing these societal barriers through increased awareness, accessibility to regular screenings and promoting self-care practices can help mitigate the impact of these factors on women’s eye health. By allowing women to know about their risk factors and encouraging proactive measures for maintaining good eye health, it is possible to reduce disparities in vision care and promote overall well-being among all women.”

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