“Can’t I manage with some ointments or drops? Why all the expense on specialised treatment? And how will my house run if it means so many trips to the eye doctor’s clinic?”

“Can she carry on without spectacles for sometime, doctor? You see, we’re fixing up a match for her and don’t want the boy’s side to reject her for wearing glasses…”

Don’t all of these sound very familiar, ask experts at Sankara Eye Care Institutions (SECI) in the city, marking the International Women’s Day with emphasis on the vision health of women.

“We live in times highly conscious of attractive appearance and also increased health and wellness maintenance. Attention to women’s health focuses upon maternity issues and female-specific cancers etc. Eye care for girls and women is more often about appearance than eye-health,” says eye surgeon Kaushik Murali.

More women than men are diagnosed with eye diseases and two-thirds of the cases of blindness and visual impairment in the world are women. It is quite sad to note that this happens despite the fact that more than 75 per cent of the problems are either preventable or curable.

Studies show that there are a number of health factors and differences between men and women that put women at greater risk of serious vision loss, says glaucoma specialist S. Ajitha.

Women are also more susceptible to dry eye syndrome, a condition more frequent in post-menopausal and pregnant women, due to hormonal fluctuations. 

Women who are pregnant or receiving fertility treatment may experience changes in their vision.  Because of an increase in hormones, some may notice changes including refractive changes, dry eyes, puffy eyelids that obscure side vision and sensitivity to light due to migraine. 

Older women who are post-menopausal and receiving hormone replacement therapy treatments may be at an increased risk for cataract.

In general, women are so busy taking care of their families, their jobs, and their lives that they do not always have time to think about their own health. “It is reported that worldwide only 40 per cent of women are able to have access to eye care services,” the specialists say.

Women do not know that their lifestyle affects their eye health. Eating healthy, exercising regularly and avoiding excessive ultra violet exposure and smoking can go a long way towards good health, especially eye health.

A regular preventive eye examination would help detect many of the eye diseases such as glaucoma (increased eye pressure) and diabetic eye diseases (retinopathy) which in the initial stages do not exhibit any symptoms.