Gender Differences in Eye Health

It’s no secret that men and women see the world differently. Yet usually when we say this, it’s from an emotional standpoint, not a physical one. What you may not realize is that men and women actually do see the world differently thanks to variances in the hearing and olfactory systems. Male eyes are more sensitive to moving objects and small details, whereas female eyes are more in tune to color changes.

There’s more.

Vision problems and eye disease affect men and women differently. While nearly everyone over the age of 40 is more at risk for various eye conditions, eye disease tends to affect women more than men.

The Women’s Eye Health Task Force reports that almost two-thirds of visually impaired and blind people in the world are female. Women are hit harder by eye diseases such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration, and research shows there are gender-specific symptoms as well.

Let’s take a closer look at why women are more likely to develop eye conditions more than men.

Women live longer than men.

Many eye diseases are age related, so the longer a person lives, the more likely they are to develop them. Across the industrialized world, women are still living 5-10 years longer than men. For this reason alone, more women develop age-related eye conditions.

Some eye diseases are more prevalent in women.

Certain eye conditions are naturally more dominant in females. Dry eye syndrome is one example, as it’s believed that hormonal changes may be responsible for the onset of symptoms. Many autoimmune conditions (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis) are also more prevalent in women, and they can affect the eyes.

Thanks to cosmetics, women touch their eyes more often.

Though things like hair spray, makeup and perfumes won’t directly cause eye disease, they can cause frequent eye irritation. Women are the ones who use cosmetics around their eyes, and this can bring on infection and other problems.

Seasonal allergies affect women more than men.

According to one study, 73 percent of women said they suffered from allergies compared to 67 percent of men. The main symptoms were itchy, watery eyes. As with cosmetics, seasonal allergies aren’t going to cause eye disease directly. However, the constant touching and rubbing of the eyes can lead to irritation and infection.

Women put their caregiving role first.

Though men are no more likely to jump in the chair of an opthamologist, women, too, are faced with barriers that prevent them from seeing the eye doctor regularly. Many women are caregivers either to their children or parents and don’t visit an eye specialist as they should. Some may also lack health insurance, limiting their access to quality care.

Whether you are a man or a woman, seeing the eye doctor each year is the most important way to protect your eye health. Talk to your doctor about preventative measures that will keep your eyes healthy and strong.