Women at higher risk for eye disease

Published On: Nov 15 2011 02:46:49 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 28 2011 03:59:18 PM CST

(NewsUSA) - Today, nearly 70 percent of blind or visually impaired people are women. As women's average life expectancy increases, so too does their propensity for vision problems.

"As scientists, we don't yet know all the factors involved in these high rates of eye disease in women," said Ilene Gipson, Ph.D., professor of Ophthalmology Schepens Eye Research Institute at Harvard Medical School and WomensEyeHealth.org executive committee chair. "Although we don't have all the answers, we do know that many eye diseases are preventable and treatable."

The problem? Not enough women receive regular, comprehensive eye exams. While some eye diseases present early warning signs like cloudy vision, light sensitivity and pain, many diseases can cause blindness without warning, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. But complete eye exams can catch the diseases before they cause vision loss.

To keep women seeing clearly, the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has partnered with WEH.org to encourage regular and timely eye care for women. They have launched a number of public service announcements and radio media tours to elevate the issue. Lions have also launched the Lions Eye Health program to provide additional educational materials.

Many women don't know that their lifestyle affects their eye health. The risk factors for cancer, stroke and heart disease are the same as those for eye diseases. Women can help protect themselves against blindness through a healthy weight and diet. Smokers also face a higher risk for vision problems.

If women take care of their overall health, and schedule eye exams from trained eye care professionals, they can enjoy good vision well into their golden years.

As LCIF Chairperson Jimmy Ross said, "Lions have long been champions of sight. Through increased awareness, we can end preventable blindness."

More eye health information is available at www.lcif.org and www.WomensEyeHealth.org.