In honour of International Women’s Day, we want to pay special attention to women’s health. When it comes to eye health, women may experience very unique forms of vision and health issues that are important to track throughout their lives. It’s the perfect opportunity to reach out to patients to keep them informed and offer advice with our quick and easy tips and tricks.
UNIQUE VISION PROBLEMS
Due to a wide range of environmental and hormonal circumstances, women experience unique vision problems throughout their lives. It can be difficult to detect certain symptoms and sometimes, women may not even be aware of their unique eye health. In order to better help themselves and their families to lower the risk of vision-related issues in the future, they need to be made aware right now.
There are many stages in a women’s life that may have an impact on her vision. Eye disease among the female population is becoming more common, especially in aging women. In fact, studies show that the majority of women over the age of 40 experience some type of eyesight impairment and are at risk of developing conditions like dry eyes, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma.[i]
Changes in hormone levels that occur during pregnancy and menopause are also key moments to stay on top of eye health. In a previous blog, our guest blogger Dr. Sophia Visanji shared her knowledge of attending to patients who are pregnant and dealing with a wave of new vision problems including dry eyes and blurred vision.
Women and girls of all ages should be informed of the unique vision problems they may be susceptible to throughout their lives and although certain issues may be on a case-to-case basis, here are some quick and easy general tips to provide female patients to ensure they monitor their eye health.
HEALTH ISSUES TO KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration is when the macula, responsible for central vision, begins to deteriorate. Once the disease shows up, you can only slow down the process so early detection is key. It typically affects more women than men, especially women over the age of 50. In fact, women are almost twice as likely to develop the disease than men.[ii]
Cataracts, which presents itself as cloudy areas in the eye’s lenses, is one of the world’s leading cause of blindness. It typically begins to present itself in patients over 40. Women and people of African-American descent are at an even higher risk for cataracts.[iii]
Patients with any form of diabetes (type 1,2 or gestational) are more common to develop diabetic retinopathy, which is a leading cause of blindness for adults. It can be controlled by on-time treatment, extensive care or various therapies, but only to a certain extent.[iv]
Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to the optic nerve, resulting in a buildup of pressure behind the eye.[v] It’s often referred to as the silent thief of sight because by the time patients notice that something is wrong with their eyesight, the damage has already been done. Glaucoma is dependent on the IOP (Intraocular pressure) and women have a unique risk factor connected to it. [vi]
This is because menstrual cycles and pregnancy may lower a woman’s IOP.[vii] Studies have also suggested that entering menopause early or taking birth control pills may add to the risk of getting glaucoma in the future.[viii]
Dry Eye Syndrome
The National Eye Institute estimates that more than 3 million women have dry eye. This is especially true for women who are pregnant, have had their menopause or have experienced early menopause. The long-term effects of dry eye could lead to eye surface damage, potentially leading to vision loss or impairment.[ix]
“More women than men have eye disease and vision loss. But there are steps they can take today to help prevent significant vision loss in the future. In addition to getting a regular eye exam, we encourage everyone to talk to their eye care professional about family medical history as well as ask for recommendations about proper eye protection in order to keep eyes as healthy as possible for years to come.”
Jeff Todd, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness
BUILDING LIFELONG PATIENT RELATIONSHIPS
Early detection is vital to treat potential eye health problems. The best way to build lasting relationships with your patients is to assure them that you will track their eye health from beginning to end. This is a win-win for you and your patients because they will have an optometrist who knows their eye health and you will in-turn have a lifelong patient.
For the month of March, in celebration of International Women’s Day, take the opportunity to get to know your patients and reach out to them to book an eye exam. Incentivize them by offering a 15% discount on their next purchase if they book an eye appointment for the whole family.
Use our simple tips and tricks to keep your patients informed about their eye health and help grow your business and increase in-store foot-traffic! Share this blog with them to help educate your patients on the unique eye health for women.