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HomeminewsWomen Over 40 At Greater Risk of Eye Disease

Women Over 40 At Greater Risk of Eye Disease

Women should be encouraged to have their eyes checked by an ophthalmologist once they reach the age of 40, according to a statement released by the Royal Australian College of Ophthalmology (RANZCO).

The College stated that women, especially those over 40, are at greater risk than men for macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.

There are an estimated 143,000 Australian females who suffer from glaucoma, compared to 77,000 males, with the higher prevalence in females driven by age. Left untreated, glaucoma may eventually result
in blindness.

Women live longer than men and due to hormonal and lifestyle factors, are at risk for developing age-related eye conditions. Menopause can bring about dry eye syndrome, requiring artificial tears or gel to prevent damage. The use of drugs or supplements to counteract menopause can inflame the middle and outer wall of the eye.

Glaucoma is one disease which is often discovered too late…

Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy may increase patients’ risk of blood clots and strokes, which can be associated with vision problems and cataracts. Pregnant women often suffer from migraines, and pregnancy can result in high blood pressure leading to blurry vision or at worst, retinal detachment.

Sydney ophthalmologist Dr. Diana Semmonds said there were other areas that should also be monitored. “Women are more likely to experience autoimmune diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren’s syndrome, which destroys the glands in the eye and mouth that produce moisture. These diseases can cause eye complications,” she said.

Women are five to six times more likely than men to get Grave’s eye disease which occurs as a result of an overactive thyroid and causes the eyes to bulge and eye muscles to inflame.

Dr. Semmonds advises women to seek the advice of their optometrist or GP if they experience any eye symptoms that are abnormal, who can then refer them to an ophthalmologist. “Often an increase in floaters or flashers, or the gradual or sudden blurring of vision, can be a sign of a potentially serious eye condition. Long-term damage can occur if treatment is not sought quickly”.

“Glaucoma is one disease which is often discovered too late, because there are no obvious symptoms. All women over the age of 40 should have an eye examination by an ophthalmologist, who will then advise on the regularity of checks needed based on their current eye health,” recommended Dr. Semmonds. “Any family history of eye disease should always be brought up with your doctor”.

Two-thirds of the world’s blind people are females. In developing communities, infectious eye diseases such as trachoma can hit women hard, as they are often carried by young children who infect their mother, sisters, aunts and other female carers.

The safe use of cosmetics, hair dyes and makeup is also advised to protect eye health.