Impact of Hormones and Aging on Women’s Eye Health
Eye care
March 19, 2024, 10:31 p.m.

Impact of Hormones and Aging on Women’s Eye Health


As life expectancy increases and we continue to battle diabetes and other chronic diseases, the incidence of eye diseases is expected to double by 2050. Women, in particular, face unique challenges when it comes to maintaining optimal eye health. From hormonal fluctuations during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, to balancing multiple roles and responsibilities, various factors can impact their vision. Women face a higher risk of vision impairment and blindness, influenced by several key factors:

  1. Longevity: Statistically, women live longer than men, which increases their exposure to age-related eye conditions.
  2. Autoimmune Diseases and Cancer Treatments: Women are more susceptible to autoimmune diseases and more likely to undergo certain cancer treatments, which have the potential to impact eye health.
  3. Hormonal Changes: The natural hormonal fluctuations associated with aging can also affect eye health.


Despite this, awareness remains low. A survey by Prevent Blindness uncovered some startling statistics: less than 10% of women are aware of their higher risk for permanent vision loss compared to men, and one in four women has not had an eye exam in the last two years. With nearly 65% age-related macular degeneration (AMD) cases occurring in women, it's critical to address the specific needs and misconceptions surrounding women's eye health.

The Connection Between Hormones and Eye Health

Throughout life, women experience significant hormonal changes that can affect their vision. During puberty, pregnancy and menopause, shifts in estrogen and progesterone levels can alter corneal thickness and curvature. Due to these hormonal changes, minor changes in vision or discomfort, such as dryness or irritation, can also occur during different phases of the menstrual cycle. Menopause, in particular, can exacerbate symptoms of dry eye syndrome and increase the risk of cataracts and AMD due to declining estrogen levels.

Women are three times more likely to experience migraines than men, with 60%  suffering from menstrual migraines. Menstrual migraines are most likely to occur in the two days preceding or the first three days of a menstrual period, largely due to the natural decline in estrogen levels during these intervals. These migraines are often accompanied by visual disturbances like auras and light sensitivity.

Thyroid issues often surface or become more prominent during menopause. Women experience swelling in their arms and legs, weight fluctuations, hair loss from their eyebrows and eyelashes, along with neck pain and visual disturbances.


It is evident that there is an intricate relationship between hormonal changes and women’s eye health, which underscores the importance of comprehensive eye education and eye care.


Eye Health Challenges Across Different Life Stages

Pregnancy and Vision

Pregnancy is a time of great anticipation and significant change, with vision undergoing its own transformation. Hormonal shifts during this period can affect the eye's oil glands, leading to increased dryness, while also altering the cornea's shape and elasticity. This can change how light is refracted by the eyes, resulting in blurred vision and discomfort, as if looking through a haze. Additionally, pregnancy-induced changes in blood circulation and fluid retention can subtly impact the eye's structure and function. Furthermore, conditions such as gestational diabetes can threaten retinal health, emphasizing the importance of vigilant eye care and proactive management during pregnancy.

Aging and Eye Health

As women age, especially during menopause, they become more susceptible to age-related eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, and AMD. For women, the chances of having glaucoma increases in likelihood with each decade after the age of 40.

Women diagnosed with diabetes, a condition that can emerge for the first time during menopause, face the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, a disease that threatens vision. In India, it's estimated that around 3 million people aged 40 and older are afflicted with this vision-threatening condition. It's crucial for women to adopt a holistic approach to eye care, incorporating lifestyle choices, preventive measures and proactive care to ensure their eyes age gracefully.

Measures to Protect Eye Health

  1. Regular eye checks: Regular eye examinations are essential for detecting eye health issues early. Want to have your eyes tested from the convenience of your home? Check out our online eye test or make an appointment with our in-house Optometrists.
  2. Eat nutritious meals: A diet rich in fruits  (especially citrus fruits), green, leafy vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna),  eggs, nuts, beans and other non-meat protein sources can lower the risk of eye diseases.
  3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Managing weight and chronic conditions, such as diabetes, is key.
  4. Avoid smoking: Smoking increases the risk of AMD, cataracts and glaucoma. 
  5. Know your family history: Sharing this with your eye doctor can help in early detection of hereditary eye diseases.
  6. Use protective eyewear: Protect your eyes when doing household chores or yard work, playing sports, or working on a job that involves flying debris, sparks, or chemicals. Wear safety glasses, goggles, shields or eye guards made of polycarbonate.
  7. Wear Sunglasses: Sunglasses help protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can increase your risk of cataracts and AMD.

Women's eye health is influenced by a complex interplay of hormonal changes, aging and lifestyle factors. By increasing awareness, encouraging regular eye exams and adopting healthy habits, women can protect their vision and ensure that their eyes age as gracefully as they do.