Surprising Things That Can Cause Blindness

woman eyes thoughtfulDoes blindness have a gender bias? Believe it or not, research shows that of the 285 million people estimated to be visually impaired worldwide, 66 percent are women.

Furthermore, research from the University of Illinois at Chicago, suggests that, “older women are at risk for glaucoma,” which can cause blindness. While some experts suggest that the risk is linked to estrogen, other causes may stem from lifestyle habits like sleeping in contacts. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two-thirds of contact lens wearers are women.  And while some causes involving vision loss aren’t preventable—as is the case with age-related eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy—other factors may be preventable.

Here’s what you should know to protect your eyes, especially if you are a woman.

Contact Lenses

If you’ve made a habit of sleeping in your contact lenses, pump the brakes. Sleeping in contacts can lead to infections, corneal ulcers, and other health problems that can cause permanent vision loss, experts say. This occurs because contact lenses reduce the much-needed supply of oxygen to the cornea, or the surface of your eye; creating a breeding ground for viral infections.

WATCH: Let’s Talk African Americans & Eye Health with Dr. Marshall

Early Onset Menopause

While for most women, menopause doesn’t become a concern until about age 51, for a select few, early onset menopause – better known as premature ovarian failure, can wreak havoc on your lifestyle, causing hot flashes, night sweats, sleep problems, pain during sex, urine or bowel leakage or worse, blindness. In fact, according to experts, when a woman’s menstruation stops before her time, the risk of developing glaucoma spikes by over two and a half times.

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