Optometrists are in an excellent position to educate female patients about their higher risk of vision loss as well as how patients can best protect and preserve their vision. According to “The Future of Vision: Forecasting the Prevalence and Costs of Vision Problems“, 4.4 million Americans age 40 and older are visually impaired or blind. Women make up the overwhelming majority of these numbers.
Below are four facts about women’s eye health you can share with patients to empower them to protect and preserve their vision.
Regular check ups are paramount
Most women, in today’s busy world, are the family caretakers, and many of them don’t take time to visit the doctor. Family activities tend to take priority. But regular health check-ups are important for women — especially when it comes to eye exams. Most tests take no more than an hour. Regular eye exams are critical as they can detect conditions such as: Glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), Cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy.
An MPOD test can allow them to stay proactive about their vision
Macular degeneration is more likely to occur in people 50 years of age and older. Smokers and Caucasians are at higher risk of developing the disease. People with a family history of age-related macular degeneration are also more likely to inherit the condition, and it is more common in women.
Explain to your patients that a Macular Pigment Optical Density (MPOD) exam can help to assess the risk of developing the disease. A simple, quick MPOD screening can serve as a biomarker to gauge macular pigment levels. Suboptimal macular pigment density doesn’t offer rods and cones the effective protection needed against UV rays and blue light. This results in damage to central and peripheral vision.
Nutrition can make all of the difference
Eye health and nutrition are intimately interwoven. The carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein make up macular pigment. Since the body doesn’t produce these carotenoids, they must be obtained through dietary resources. While lutein can be found in a variety of leafy green vegetables, zeaxanthin is much tougher to acquire through the average American’s diet. Unfortunately most Americans don’t consume enough lutein or zeaxanthin. If macular pigment density is suboptimal, supplementation may be of service.
Exercise impacts more than just the heart
According to this article, “The Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, did a study called Healthy Lifestyles Related to Subsequent Prevalence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration. The study looked at the relationship between diet, smoking and physical activity as it related to the prevalence of age related macular degeneration.”
The study concluded, “Women in the highest quintile compared with those in the lowest quintile for physical activity (in metabolic energy task hours per week) had 54% lower odds for early AMD.”
AMD can’t be cured, nor can the progress of the disease be reversed. Vision issues affect a patient’s quality of life as well as their wallet. Sharing women’s eye health tips can arm your patients with sight-saving information for which they will thank you.