If you are in or near menopause and considering whether or not to take estrogen, in addition to hot flashes and low libido, it's time to include your risk of glaucoma with your doctor. A new article in the journal Menopause reviews data that shows low estrogen levels are a major contributor to poor vision in women as they age. Here's a short summary and what it means to you.
Here are the facts:
• The optic nerve, the large nerve in the back of your eye that sends vision to your brain, shrinks with age -- about 0.2 percent per year. Low estrogen contributes to this.
• The pressure inside the eye -- called the intraocular pressure -- also increases with age. That leads to the condition glaucoma, the second leading cause of blindness in the United States and the leading cause of blindness worldwide.
• Giving estrogen to menopausal animals helps prevent glaucoma.
• Women are much more likely than men to have glaucoma, and cases of glaucoma are rising rapidly.
• Women in menopause have higher intraocular pressure.
• Menopause before age 45 increases the rate of glaucoma 2.6 times. Six percent of women enter menopause before age 45. That's 9.42 million women in the U.S.
How does this affect you? Do/did you have any of the following:
• Menopause before age 45
• Cancer with treatment that blocks estrogen
• Surgery to remove your ovaries before age 45
If you have any of the following situations or conditions, or in natural menopause, be sure and have your eyes checked at least annually. Have them checked for vision and intraocular pressure. It's one of the things you need to consider with your physician when deciding whether or not to use estrogen.
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