A bunch of flowers is undoubtedly a sweet gift for Mother’s Day (May 14) but your mum might appreciate them more if she could see them properly.
Research shows that Australian women of all ages suffer a higher prevalence of long-term eye conditions than men (55.7% and 48.2% respectively), according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Of women between the ages of 55 and 74, 95.6% suffer from a long-term eye condition.
The latest Medicare statistics reveal that of the 8.67 million optometric services provided in 2016, women received around 57.6% of those services and men, 42.4%. From ages five to 85+, females outnumbered men in the number of services delivered.
Women aged between 45 and 74 years of age absorbed the highest level of optometric services (around 2.40 million) compared to those provided to men in the same age bracket (around 1.84 million services).
Eye diseases more likely to affect women include macular degeneration (central vision reduction), cataracts (clouding of the lens of the eye), diabetic retinopathy (damage to blood vessels in eyes caused by diabetes) and glaucoma (optic nerve disease that can cause blindness), figures from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) suggest. For more details on symptoms and treatments for eye diseases head to goodvisionforlife.com.au/vision-problems.
Menopause is one of the risk factors for dry eye syndrome and the treatments for menopause can inflame the middle and outer wall of the eye. Meanwhile, other treatments that affect hormones - such as birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy - are associated with blood clots and strokes, which can lead to vision problems and cataracts. Women are also much more likely to suffer from Graves disease – an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid – which can cause eyeball tissue to become inflamed and result in bulging eyes.
Glaucoma is a big one for mum to watch out for – sometimes called the ‘silent thief of sight’ – it often goes undetected until too late because it has no obvious symptoms. Age as well as a family history of glaucoma increases the risk.
To ensure the long-term health of their eyes, women are encouraged to stay on the lookout for eye disease warning signs like blurred or distorted vision, eye strain and headaches; maintain good contact lens hygiene; keep their doctors updated on their medications; treat dry eye properly; quit smoking; eat a healthy diet; and wear sunglasses.
Most importantly, all women over 40 should have an examination by an optometrist who can detect problems early and advise on how regularly check ups are needed in each individual case.
While mothers are usually busy caring for their children and families and typically think of themselves last, Mother’s Day is a good opportunity to return the favour. Along with flowers, chocolates or a fancy restaurant meal, a good Mother’s Day gift to consider may be a date with an optometrist.
That way they have the best chance to enjoy seeing the smiles of their children and grandchildren for many more Mother’s Days to come.