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Surprising Things That Can Cause Blindness


By Ruthie Hawkins

Does 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, and 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.

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.



In some drugs, that lengthy list of side effects may include blindness.

“There are some medications that cause deposits on the retina that can, over a long period of time, impair the vision,” Assumpta Madu, M.D., an ophthalmologist at NYU Langone, told Women’s Health Magazine.


It’s never too late to kick this nasty habit! The CDC, reports that “a leading cause of vision loss is now clearly linked to smoking.”

In fact, tobacco users are twice as likely to develop macular degeneration – which destroys the central vision that you need to read, drive, and see people’s faces — when compared with a nonsmoker.

Smokers are also two to three times more likely to develop cataracts – which causes blurry vision — when compared to nonsmokers.


The Sun

Staring directly at the sun CAN lead to blindness. It’s called solar retinopathy.

While it would take several minutes of gazing at the heart of our solar system for it to cause permanent impairment, enough damage (solar radiation) to the retina can harm the macula, a tiny substructure of the retina responsible for much of your central detail vision, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences reports.

Tip: Protect your eyes from the harmful rays by never staring at the sun directly with the naked eye and always wear shades when you expect to spend long periods of time in the sunlight.

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