Over the last 20 years, research has revealed that females are at a considerably greater risk of visual alterations, impairment, and loss of sight than men. Around 55 percent of blind persons worldwide are women, with the majority living in low-income and middle-income nations. In fact, ladies are 13% more likely than males to undergo eyesight loss. However, nine out of 10 incidents of blindness are avoidable.
Though serious eye diseases are not exclusive to women, they might have different and more severe impacts on their vision than males. So, what can women do?
Many biological factors contribute to eye difficulties that women have no control over. Learning about the hazards, on the other hand, allows women to take actions toward vision protection, increasing the percentage of women who have healthy eyes and vision.
How does Hormone change your eyesight?
Hormones are substances that carry information to many sections of the body and influence numerous vital activities. These include mood, sexual function, growth and development, and reproductive capacity.
Sex hormones, often known as sex steroids, are the hormones that distinguish males and females. The following are the major sex hormones in a female endocrine system, the network in which hormones function:
Estrogen - This hormone is essential for reproductive and sexual development beginning in puberty.
Progesterone - This hormone aids in the regulation of menstrual cycles and prepares the body for pregnancy.
Androgens - A class of sex hormones that influence fertility, bone mass, sex drive, and red blood cell formation. Women only have a little amount, but males have a bigger amount (testosterone is the most common androgen).
If there is a chemical imbalance of hormones in the body, there will have serious consequences (including hazards to the eyes). According to research, the tissues in the eyes have sex hormone receptors. This indicates that fluctuations in sex hormone levels might cause eye and vision difficulties.
Many women undergo significant hormonal changes throughout adolescence, pregnancy, and menopause.
How does vision change during adolescence?
Female adolescent girls often enter puberty between the ages of 8 and 13. When a female enters puberty, her body produces an increased amount of follicle-stimulating hormones and luteinizing hormones. This causes estrogen and progesterone to be produced.
Girls usually have their first menstrual period not long after. Estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate during this cycle and each subsequent cycle. These hormonal changes can have an effect on their vision.
Research on hormone fluctuations and eyesight published in the Chinese Medical Journal tracked the cycles of 120 myopic teenage females aged 15 to 16. For each girl's eyes, ocular measures and estradiol (a kind of estrogen) levels were recorded.
Throughout each girl's cycle, the eyes and hormone levels were tested four times on different occasions. The results revealed a minor change in eye parameters — such as eyeglass prescription — based on where the girl was in her cycle. The measurements appeared to fluctuate in tandem with the amounts of estradiol in the eye.
How does vision change during pregnancy?
Hormone levels alter dramatically when a woman becomes pregnant. A new set of pregnancy hormones is introduced to the mix, in addition to estrogen and progesterone. Pregnancy hormones include human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and human placental lactogen (hPL).
These hormones only existed during pregnancy since they are generated by the placenta.
During pregnancy, the presence of these hormones might produce modest, transient changes in and around the eyes. They frequently faded away once the baby is delivered or the mother discontinues nursing. These changes may have an impact on:
Eyelids - It is common in pregnant women to increase pigmentation around the eyelids, which is Melasma or chloasma. Experts think that hormonal changes during pregnancy enhance melanin synthesis, which might result in skin darkening in some regions.
Corneas - During pregnancy, the corneas' thickness, curvature, and sensitivity may alter. This can produce a refractive defect, resulting in hazy vision. Women who wore contact lenses before pregnancy may also develop a temporary sensitivity to them.
Tear production - Pregnancy needs the work of several hormones. These hormones can sometimes influence the tear film and lacrimal glands of the eyes, resulting in dry eye syndrome.
Intraocular pressure (IOP) - Pressure within the eye lowers during pregnancy, however, dangerously low pressure is uncommon. Low IOP, on the other hand, can produce corneal edema and abnormalities, leading to reduced vision.
Lenses – Accommodation is a characteristic of the eye's lens that allows it to shift focus from distant to close vision. Some women have reported losing their capacity to accommodate during pregnancy and nursing.
Women who had diabetes before getting pregnant are more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy. Women who develop diabetes during pregnancy, a condition known as gestational diabetes, have a low risk of diabetic retinopathy.
How does vision change during menopause?
Menopause occurs when a woman no longer has menstrual periods and is unable to conceive. Following menopause, the ovaries that produce sex hormones produce low but consistent quantities of the hormones.
Dry eye syndrome is one of the most common vision-related problems that women have during menopause.
Estrogens and androgens are essential components of the lubricating system of the eye. Certain tissues in the eyes, as previously established, include sex hormone receptors. These receptors can be found in the meibomian glands, for example.
The research on whether estrogen or androgen replacement is better for dry eyes in postmenopausal women is inconsistent.
According to some research, the meibomian glands are an androgen target organ. This suggests that the receptors are more sensitive to androgen hormone. As a result, testosterone is thought to assist the glands to create the lipid layer and alleviate dry eye symptoms.
Furthermore, research on postmenopausal women with low estrogen indicated that when they began estrogen replacement medication, their incidence of dry eye condition rose. They also experienced more severe symptoms.
How does Age affect vision?
Females live an average of 5.4 years longer than males, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. While the gap is not large, an extra five years might make women more likely to have age-related eye disease.
Common eye diseases in older people include:
Cataracts are caused by the clouding of the lens of the eye. They are caused by the clumping of lens proteins that develops as we age. Cataracts often develop slowly over time and might result in dim, foggy, or blurry vision.
Cataracts, if left untreated, can cause vision loss in severe situations. Cataract surgery can be used to remove cataracts and restore eyesight.
This disease is distinguished by excessive intraocular pressure, which might result in optic nerve injury. The increased pressure is caused by an imbalance between the creation of inner eye fluid, known as aqueous humor, and its capacity to drain.
Long-term high eye pressure can damage the optic nerve in the back of the eye, resulting in vision loss. Eye drops, oral medicines, or surgery may be used to treat glaucoma.
Age-related macular degeneration
A disease characterized by the loss of light-sensitive cells (photoreceptors) in the macula is known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The macula is the core portion of the retina that controls your sharpest central vision as well as your color vision.
In the late stages of AMD, the patient may lose some or all of their central vision yet may retain their peripheral vision. There is no cure for AMD.
When the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye (the retina) separates from the eyeball, this is referred to as retinal detachment. This separation cuts off blood flow to the retina, which can result in the death of cells responsible for your eyesight.
A detached retina can only be repaired by emergency surgery. The sooner the retina can be reattached, the better the chances of restoring eyesight.
How does diabetes affect vision?
A woman has little control over the changes that occur with the aging of her hormones, and genetics. Healthy habits, on the other hand, can help protect the eyes against illnesses such as diabetes. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and getting regular physicals and eye examinations are very crucial.
How do women protect their vision?
As we all know, women have a natural ability to care for others. This frequently implies that they prioritize the needs of others before their own. While this is one of many amazing qualities that women possess, it is also critical for them that they be proactive about their health and well-being.
Here are some precautions you may take to protect your vision:
1. Find out if you are predisposed to eye disorders.
Understand your family's health history. Do you or anybody in your family have diabetes or a history of high blood pressure? Are you above the age of 60? Any of these characteristics increases your chances of developing sight-threatening eye illnesses.
2. Get physicals regularly to rule out diabetes and high blood pressure.
These disorders can cause vision difficulties if left untreated. Diabetes and high blood pressure, in particular, can cause vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and ocular strokes.
3. Look for warning signs of eyesight changes.
If you notice any changes in your eyesight, consult your eye doctor right away. Double vision, fuzzy vision, and difficulty seeing in low light are all symptoms of the issue.
Red eyes, frequent flashes of light, floaters, and eye discomfort and swelling are further indications and symptoms of potentially serious eye issues that require rapid care.
4. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise, such as brisk walking, has been shown in studies to lower the incidence of age-related macular degeneration by up to 70%.
5. Protect your eyes from damaging UV rays.
When going outside during the day, always wear sunglasses that block out 100 percent of the sun's damaging UV radiation. This may help minimize your chances of developing cataracts, pingueculas, and other eye diseases.
6. Consume a well-balanced diet.
Antioxidants have been found in studies to lessen the risk of cataracts. These antioxidants are best acquired by consuming a diet rich in fruits and bright or dark green vegetables. Eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids may also lower your chance of getting macular degeneration, according to research.
7. Get an eye exam every year.
A thorough eye exam, including pupil dilation, can assess your risk for serious eye illnesses such as diabetic retinopathy, which has no early warning signs or symptoms.
An eye exam may help guarantee that your eyeglasses or contact lens prescription is up to date and that you are seeing as clearly and securely as possible.
8. Don't smoke.
The numerous hazards of smoking have been widely documented. When it comes to eye health, smokers are more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, uveitis, and other eye disorders.