Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Women's Eye Health and Safety March 2011

L to R: Nadine Bray, Bonnie Becmer and Carol Canales

Of the many health differences between men and women, you may not be aware of the fact that women are more affected by eye disease and other eye conditions than men. Every year, more women than men are diagnosed with eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

A 2008 study from Prevent Blindness America and the National Eye Institute consistently showed that more women are diagnosed with major eye disease. And, of the more than 3.6 million Americans age 40 and older who suffer from visual impairment, including blindness, 2.3 million (over 2/3rds) are women.

April is designated as Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month in an effort to encourage women to make their vision health a priority and schedule a dilated eye exam.

An eye exam cannot only help to protect your vision, it can uncover evidence of other diseases including diabetes and hypertension. For eye diseases such as glaucoma, the damaging effects may be detected through an eye exam before you notice any symptoms. In fact, by the time symptoms start to appear, some permanent damage to the eye has usually occurred.

Women are also more susceptible to dry eye syndrome, a condition where not enough natural tears are produced, you produce poor-quality tears or you have eyelid problems. Approximately 6 million women and 3 million men have moderate to severe symptoms of dry eye syndrome.

Regarding Eye Safety

Of the 2.5 million eye injuries that occur annually, almost half of them happen at home and more than 30% of all home eye injuries require emergency room care. Eye injury is one of the leading causes of visual impairment in the United States.

The most common eye injuries occur when doing lawn work, kitchen projects or when using harsh chemicals. Flying debris or nails were the cause of most eye injuries with blunt objects a close second. The most common eye injuries are abrasions, lacerations, or other eye irritations.

Fortunately, 90% of all eye injuries can be prevented by using protective eyewear. When starting any project, whether it be cleaning surfaces with chemicals or doing yard work, Prevent Blindness America recommends everyone wear eyewear approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The eyewear should have the “Z-87” logo stamped on the frames and can be purchased at hardware stores and home building centers.

Posted by Nadine Bray Women's Issues chair

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