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Eye and Vision Care

Dry Eye Syndrome Affects More Women Than Men

Dry Eye Syndrome, a painful condition that can impair vision and increase the risk of eye infection, affects millions of Americans.  Dry Eye is actually a group of disorders caused by the inability to produce enough tears with sufficient lubrication.  Symptoms can include burning or itchy eyes as well as increased eye mucus and a gritty or scratchy feeling on the eyes.  

Dry Eye symptoms you may experience are:
Dry Eye is one of the leading causes of visits to eye care professionals.  Treatment options vary from eye drops and ointments to some types of surgery.  If left untreated, this condition can lead to pain, ulcers, or scars on the cornea, and some loss of vision. However, permanent loss of vision from dry eye is uncommon. (NEI)

The risk of Dry Eye increases with age.  Other risk factors include patients who have undergone refractive surgery (such as LASIK), have severe allergies, are on certain medications, or are contact lens wearers.  Those with rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases are also at increased risk.
 
Women are also more likely to develop Dry Eye.  Approximately 6 million have moderate to severe symptoms of dry eye syndrome, as compared to 3 million men, according to the National Women's Health Resource Center.
 
Women who are pregnant, on certain types of birth control, or experiencing menopause have increased rates of Dry Eye.  In fact, according to the National Eye Institute, women who are on hormone replacement therapy are also more likely to experience symptoms.  Women taking only estrogen are 70 percent more likely to experience Dry Eye, and those taking estrogen and progesterone have a 30 percent increased risk of developing the condition. 
 
Follow these tips to avoid irritation from Dry Eye:
General Women's Eye Health

Not only do more women have Dry Eye, they are also more likely to develop eye diseases such as cataracts and glaucoma.  And, because of increased longevity, women are more likely to develop macular degeneration.  According to the Women's Eye Health Task Force, risk factors for premature death due to heart disease or cancer put women at risk for blindness and vision impairment. These factors include:
Follow these tips to help lower the incidence of eye diseases:
It is imperative that women of every age make an appointment with their eye doctor as soon as possible to ensure that they are protecting their vision for the future. 

This article is based, in part, on information provided by Prevent Blindness Ohio and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission.

Related Resources:

Vision Problems in the U.S.
Women's Eye Health Task Force

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Last Reviewed: Jun 24, 2011

Julia Rae Geldis, OD, MS Julia Rae Geldis, OD, MS
Clinical Assistant Professor of Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University