Why are there gender inequalities in visual impairment?

Lucía Artazcoz
Data de publicació
Tipus de publicació

Background: In high-income countries, the prevalence of blindness and visual impairment is higher among
women, regardless of age although the mechanisms that produce these gender inequalities are not well
understood. The objectives of this study were to analyse gender inequalities in the prevalence of blindness and
visual impairment, age of onset, diagnosed and undiagnosed status and related eye diseases among visually
impaired individuals. Methods: Data were obtained from the 2008 Spanish Survey on ‘Disability, Personal
Autonomy and Dependency Situations’ (n = 213 626) participants 360 blind (160 men and 200 women), and
5560 with some visual impairment (2025 men and 3535 women). The prevalence of blindness and visual
impairment, age of onset of visual impairment and diagnosed and undiagnosed eye diseases was calculated.
Hierarchical multiple logistic regression models were fit to test gender differences. Results: Women were more
likely to report visual impairment (crude OR = 1.6 [95% CI: 1.56–1.74]). Prevalence of diagnosed cataract was
higher among visually impaired women (crude OR = 1.4 [95% CI: 1.25–1.67]) whereas undiagnosed eye disease
(crude OR = 0.7 [95% CI: 0.64–0.81]) or diagnosed glaucoma (aORsex = 0.8 [95% CI: 0.65–0.93]) were more frequent
among visually impairment men. These associations were not explained by age or educational level. Conclusions:
Strong gender inequalities were observed, with a higher prevalence of visual impairment and related cataracts
among women, which could be related to gender inequalities in access to health care, and undiagnosed eye
disease and related glaucoma among men, which could be related to their gender socialization resulting in less
frequent and effectively use of health care services.