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CHICAGO—Prevent Blindness has declared April Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month. According to the National Eye Institute, two out of every three people living with blindness or vision problems are women, and according to The Future of Vision: Forecasting the Prevalence and Costs of Vision Problems, women are at a higher risk for certain eye diseases and conditions. Prevent Blindness has declared April as Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month in an effort to educate the public on the increased risk for women and vision health issues, as well as steps that can be taken to prevent vision loss.

According to Prevent Blindness, women have a higher prevalence of major vision problems including age-related macular degeneration, autoimmune diseases, cataract, dry eye, glaucoma, low vision, thyroid eye disease and refractive error. The World Health Organization’s World Report on Vison found that women, on average, live longer than men and are thus at greater risk of developing eye conditions associating with aging. Even after controlling for age, however, global estimates suggest that women with moderate and severe presenting distance vision impairment outnumber men by about 7 percent.

Prevent Blindness said that gender and financial disparities also create barriers to eyecare for women. A JAMA Ophthalmology study found that, although women were more likely to use eyecare, they were also more likely to report difficulty affording eyeglasses than men. Additionally, dry eye leading to a clinical diagnosis or severe symptoms affects more than 3.2 million American women who are middle-aged and older.

Finally, women also experience unique health issues related to pregnancy and menopause. Women may notice changes in their ability to see clearly during pregnancy, and women with pre-existing conditions, like glaucoma, high blood pressure or diabetes, need to alert their eye doctor that they are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

Jeff Todd, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness, said, “We know that many women play a key role in the overall health of their whole families. We encourage them to take a moment to ensure their own vision health today and help protect eyesight in the future.”

Prevent Blindness has made fact sheets on eye diseases and eye protection, as well as more information on women’s eye health, available on its website, or by calling (800) 331-2020. Prevent Blindness also offers a free listing of financial assistance services in English and Spanish online here.