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Women at Increased Risk of Vision Loss

Most women don’t realize that they have a much higher risk than men for almost all age-related eye conditions, including cataracts, glaucoma, vision impairment, and autoimmune diseases that affect vision, says Rudrani Banik, M.D., an integrative ophthalmologist and the founder of Envision Health NYC.

“In a 2014 Harris poll, fewer than one in 10 women knew they were at greater risk than men for permanent vision loss,” Banik says. “Yet 65 percent of people with age-related macular degeneration are women; 14 million women are affected by cataracts, 11 percent more than men; 

more than 1.6 million women have glaucoma, and women account for 63 percent of the 2.9 million vision impairment cases.”

Women are also more likely to develop dry eye, as well as autoimmune conditions that affect vision, like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and thyroid eye disease, she says. 

Protecting vision starts with regular eye exams, with pupils dilated, Banik says. Women should tell their ophthalmologists about any family history of eye disease, and expectant mothers should report any vision changes, which can be a symptom of gestational diabetes.

“Lifestyle choices are important too,” she notes. “That includes proper nutrition, including supplements; getting regular exercise; not smoking, and wearing UV-blocking sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat outdoors. And be careful to practice safe cosmetic and contact lens use. Taking care of yourself includes taking care of your eyes.”

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