Women at Higher Risk of Disease-related Vision Loss than Men
By Jim Greene
Published on May 30, 2010
Women are more likely than men to suffer vision loss due to eye diseases and conditions, according to two major studies. Researchers believe some of the difference may be attributable to hormone fluctuations caused by women's changing reproductive systems.
Research conducted jointly by Prevent Blindness America and the National Eye Institute showed that women are more likely to suffer from major eye diseases, such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. Nearly two-thirds of the more than 3.6 million Americans 40 and older who suffer from visual impairment or blindness are women.
A less serious eye condition, but one that is among the most common, is dry eye syndrome, caused by insufficient production from the tear glands. About six million American women suffer from moderate to severe dry eye syndrome, compared to only half as many men. Women who have dry eye are generally not the best candidates for LASIK surgery.
A Swedish study looked specifically at the risk of women developing cataracts as a result of receiving hormone replacement treatment (HRT) after menopause. Those who had received HRT were 14 to 18 percent more likely to develop cataracts than those who had not. Longer HRT treatment resulted in higher likelihood.
Hormone changes due to pregnancy or fertility treatments can cause women to experience refractive changes, migraine headaches due to increased light sensitivity, or puffy eyelids that obstruct vision.