Those taking care of elderly women need to know that women are at a greater risk of suffering permanent vision less than are men – a fact of which only 9% of American women are aware, according to a recent survey. April is Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month, and is an excellent time for those caring for elderly women to take take steps to protect their loved ones’ vision.
Prevent Blindness, a national non-profit organization, sponsors Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month every year as a way of drawing attention to the specific vision health issues facing women. According to a 2012 study (“Vision Problems in the U.S.,” www.visionproblemsus.org), women make up 66% of the individuals experiencing blindness, 65% of those with age-related macular degeneration, and 61% of those with cataracts.
Vision loss is a major concern for all people, but especially for seniors. As those taking care of elderly individuals know, vision loss impact goes beyond simple loss of sight (a situation which in itself is significant). Vision impairment or loss also can lead to other complications, such as increased likelihood of falls, depression, and social isolation.
Regular vision exams should be a part of every senior’s life. In addition, those with a family history of vision issues such as macular degeneration or glaucoma, and those with conditions such as diabetes, should take special precautions to ensure early diagnosis of any potential vision issues.
A good first step is for women (both seniors and younger women) to take a self-assessment from Prevent Blindness, which they can download here. This short, 10-question assessment can help an individual to determine whether she is at risk of having or developing an eye problem.
Men take note: just because women are at an increased risk of developing eye issues doesn’t mean that men shouldn’t also take this assessment and consult with their doctors as to how to better maintain vision!