Maintaining healthy eye care habits can support a lifetime of wellness, both for your vision and the rest of your body. But because females face a higher risk of eye diseases than men, you’ll want to pay special attention to your eyes if you’re a woman. From hormonal factors to age-related risks, here’s everything women should know about eye health.

The Causes Behind Eye Problems in Women

Several factors make you more susceptible to certain eye conditions if you’re a woman. For one, women tend to live longer than men, and the risk of many eye problems increases with age. To complicate matters further, age-related hormonal changes can also take a toll on your eyes. Specifically, estrogen and progesterone affect the oil glands in your eyes; when hormone levels dip with menopause, you may experience dry eyes and discomfort with contact lenses. Estrogen also affects your cornea’s elasticity, altering how light travels into your eye.

Women also have a greater risk for autoimmune diseases, which can create inflammation and other complications that have ocular effects. Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Graves’ disease may result in eye pain, visual changes, and vision loss.

Together, all of these qualities make women more likely to experience the following eye diseases:

  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Dry syndrome
  • Glaucoma
  • Eye problems with pregnancy

Women who become pregnant are prone to further hormonal eye changes, some of which are normal. For example, hormones supporting fetal growth can cause increased eye pressure, decreased tear production, and changes to the shape or thickness of your cornea. Blurred vision is a common symptom of these changes, and while it may be unsettling at first, most women find that their vision returns to normal several weeks after giving birth. Refractive surgery, such as LASIK, is not recommended during pregnancy and for a few months after delivery because of these temporary anatomy changes. 

Rarely, some women experience more serious eye problems with pregnancy. Sudden blurred vision could indicate issues like gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, both of which require treatment to keep you and your baby safe. If blurriness comes on quickly or if it’s accompanied by other vision changes or symptoms like swelling, headaches, and sudden death weight gain, contact your prenatal care provider right away.

Preventing Eye Problems in Women

While factors like hormones, age, and genetics may not be within your control to change, you can take charge of your eye health in other ways. One of the simplest methods is using physical protection: wear protective gear during activities that could cause eye injury, such as contact sports and home improvement projects. And, always wear UV-blocking sunglasses while you’re outside.

Just like the other aspects of your wellness, your eyes can benefit from making healthy choices. Avoiding smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutrient-rich foods, exercising, and managing any existing conditions can decrease your risk for eye diseases, along with many other chronic illnesses.

Finally — but importantly — be sure to receive your comprehensive eye exam each year. During this appointment, our eye doctors perform several tests to look for changes in both your vision and your eyes’ internal structure. These exams enable our specialists to catch eye conditions long before noticeable symptoms arise, giving you the chance to seek treatment early to prevent or minimize symptoms.

Schedule Your Annual Eye Exam Today

If you’re experiencing eye-related changes or are due for your annual exam, our eye care specialists are here. We offer comprehensive diagnostic services and treatment for eye diseases, as well as general optometry services. Schedule your appointment online or by calling (404) 351-2220.