Working for People with Sight Loss

This International Women’s Day – give yourself the gift of healthy eyes

An drawing of a woman's silhouette with the silhouettes of different women drawn within it. text: 8th March international womens day and NCBI logo

Sight loss can affect anyone from any walk of life, any gender, any age, but if we look at it a little more closely, it is clear to see that women are at far greater risk than men.

This international women’s day, we are looking at types of sight loss women should be aware of and what you can do to protect your sight.

A lady waist down walking with a cane and her guide dog

Two-thirds of global blindness and visual impairments occur in women, and women are much more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, and cataracts than men. They make up 65% of AMD patients and 61% of those with glaucoma and cataracts, according to the WHO.

 

The risk of sight loss increases with age, and women live longer than men. Women are also at a greater risk of autoimmune diseases. It appears that women’s higher instances of eye issues are down to a combination of biological factors as well as things like having eyelash extensions and using eye make-up.

A pregnant belly with a doctors hand on it

Pregnancy and eye health

Many women experience temporary vision loss and vision shifts during pregnancy, along with migraines, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Whether you have a pre-existing eye condition or not, it is essential to visit your eye doctor if you feel your vision is changing in any way.

An eye condition known as optic neuritis is quite common in women of childbearing age and pregnant women; this is an inflammation of the optic nerve that causes vision loss. If this inflammation is treated timely, you will not have any long-term effects.

Pregnancy is also associated with an increased risk of development and progression of diabetic retinopathy. The greatest risk of any sight loss occurs during the second trimester and persists as long as 12 months postpartum.

A lady in her 60s putting on lipstick in a mirror

Menopause and Eye Health

Menopause brings a whole host of changes to women’s eyes. Dry eyes are twice as common in postmenopausal women; this is on top of dry eyes being more common in women than men regardless. Women who go through menopause early actually have an increased risk for surface damage to their eyes due to dry eye disease.

Women may also experience changes in prescriptions in their corrective lens as a result of menopause. This may be due to changes in the levels of oestrogen and progesterone, resulting in blurry vision and difficulty focusing.

However, it’s not all bad news, as women may become less short-sighted due to these hormonal fluctuations, although this may change your prescription.

A mascara wand being held up with makeup on the table blurred out

The beauty industry and eye health

Many women enjoy the wonders of make-up and eyelash extensions as a way of expression and artistry. If used correctly, eye make-up can cause no harm to you and allow you to express yourself safely, but if used incorrectly, it can be harmful to your eye health. The damage can include:

 

  • Scratching your cornea when applying mascara or eyeliner.
  • Using out of date products or sharing products can lead to Conjunctivitis and other more severe eye infections.
  • Allergic reactions to products.
  • Eye dragging or drooping from magnetic extensions and inflammation from eyelash extension glue.

So remember to protect your eyes by:

  • Never sharing products.
  • Using hypoallergenic eye make-up.
  • Always sharpening your eye pencils before use to avoid scratching the eye.
  • Frequently replacing eye products, especially mascara, and never using eye products that are out of date.
  • Going to a reputable, licenced eyelash extension applicator and try to stay away from magnetic eyelash extensions.
  • Keeping the eye area clean and remove all make-up at the end of the day.

    This international women’s day, give yourself the ultimate self-care gift by taking some time to protect your eye health, book an eye test, throw out your old mascaras, or if you would like more advice and support regarding your eye health contact NCBI’s helpline on 1850 33 43 53.