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Is longevity a blessing for women? Is longevity a blessing for women?

Is longevity a blessing for women?

Is longevity a blessing? Statistics from the Hong Kong government in 2016 showed that the expectancy of life at birth for men and women was 81 years and 87 years respectively, representing an increase of some 7 years and 8 years respectively when compared with 30 years ago. Research from Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare also ranked Hong Kong people at the global top of life expectancy for two consecutive years since 2016.

With age, different kinds of illness follow, and visual impairment is only one of them. A report by government on Persons with Disabilities and Chronic Diseases in 2014 found that among the 170,000 people with visual impairment in the territory, near 60% are women. 65.4% are aged above 70 and 40% have only primary level of education.

When women live longer, they are more prone to various diseases that come with age. Consultant of The Fred Hollows Foundation in Hong Kong and eye doctor Dr. Godfrey Lam explains it from a social perspective.

He says, “Women from the last generation, who are over 70, often have a lower level of education. They don’t need to read books nor newspapers. As long as they can see, they do not bother to have their eyes checked or wear glasses.”

“Men in the past tended to work outdoors and as labourers. They were more easily affected by ultra violet from the sun. As they are the bread winners of the family, they took better care of their health and might seek help more quickly than women.”

Worsening eye sight may also affect the psychological wellbeing of the elderly people, and also make them more prone to falling down and other kinds of accidents. Caretakers can pay attention to changes in elderly people’s daily lives. Sudden change of temper or falling down frequently may be an indication of worsening eye sight.

While cataract is commonly associated with ageing, not everyone who suffers from it is old. Some children are born with cataract (congenital cataracts) and, in these cases, early detection and treatment is critical to prevent permanent blindness. 

As well as being hereditary, other causes of cataract can include eye trauma, sunlight exposure, diabetes, genetic disorders or dehydration in children from severe diarrhoeal infection and fevers, and even some medications.

In places such as Inner Mongolia, Yunnan and Xinjiang where The Fred Hollows Foundation serves and sunlight is strong, young farmers who work long hours outdoors often suffer from cataract. It is not as easy as it is in Hong Kong to seek medical help, and access for women is even more difficult.

Food with vitamin A such as carrots, spinach, eggs, fish and meat are vital to good eye health. Outdoor exercises are also good for our eyes. Of course for any uncertainties, eye doctors are the best way to go.