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Women and eye health: Don’t forget female patients this month!

women and eye healthBy Susan Lake, OD

It seems that every time I log into a social media account there is declaration of a new “day.” For example, I recently noticed an onslaught of pictures posted of my friends with their brothers and sisters and quickly realized it was “siblings day.” There are awareness “months” too, and although some of them seem a little silly and far-reaching, I recently was informed of a serious one that deems discussion.

April is Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month. We all have women in our lives who are precious to us. They are our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. Many times they are the ones that keep the family’s busy schedules rolling. They do the carpools after they work full-time jobs, help with homework while cooking dinner or folding laundry.

In addition to these jobs, the one common theme I find time after time with my female patients is that they are in charge of scheduling their family’s eye examinations as well as their general health exams and dental exams. Many practice management courses will encourage you to remind parents who bring their older children to see us that we begin seeing children as young as 6 months old. This ensures that we begin their eye care early in development and we then become their lifelong eye care providers. I think this is great advice and I’ve utilized it to grow my pediatric practice.

Here’s what I’ve added to that discussion though. I always look at the mother of the patient and ask when the last time was that SHE had an eye exam. This question is frequently followed by a thoughtful look into the air for her to search her memory of this happening. I tell her I know that in all likelihood she is the cog that keeps her family wheel turning. If something happens to her eye health and subsequently to her vision, that wheel is going to turn with much decreased efficiency. Moms hate inefficiencies. I encourage her to schedule her own eye exam before they leave. Sometimes it works, sometimes she swears that as soon as she gets through the last kid she’ll be in. Sometimes she laughs at the hilarity of the thought of putting herself in the lineup. Those are the ones that worry me.

In the USA, this is more commonly due to age-related macular degeneration, autoimmune disease and dry eye. This statistic is partially because women live longer than men.  All of your patients deserve this information, but maybe for one month, this month, focus on the estrogen dominated half.

Speaking of AMD, can we change the course of AMD? Dr. Dorothy Hitchmoth’s recently recorded webinar has answers to that question. Sign up for the webinar here.

suzy-150x131Dr. Susan Lake is a native of Nebraska and a graduate of the University of Nebraska. She completed her Doctorate of Optometry from Southern College in Memphis. She is Board Certified in Vision Development and Vision Therapy and has a strong pediatric emphasis to her practice. She speaks frequently to parent and professional groups, sharing with them the importance of early recognition of vision problems. In her spare time she reads and contributes to her own blog discussing being a working Optometrist and Mom at She and her husband share three Optometry practices and three daughters and they can all usually be found on a lake, in a boat and waterskiing.

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