The researchers at City, University of London found that, as men can ignore symptoms and tend to not seek medical attention until the disease is significant, they were 16% more likely to present with advanced sight problems than their female counterparts.
Published in Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, the study’s authors highlighted the public health challenge that its findings pose for vision-threatening conditions such as glaucoma, which benefit from early detection.
As part of the study, in order to investigate whether men are more likely to have advanced visual field loss at the point of referral to a glaucoma clinic than women, researchers analysed 152,918 visual field tests from 32,147 patients in England.
Participants were included in the analysis if they had measureable visual field loss in at least one eye at the point of referral to a glaucoma clinic, as well as if they had advanced visual field loss at the first visit to secondary care.
The researchers found that the overall proportion of patients with advanced visual field loss at the point of referral to a glaucoma clinic was “slightly” higher in men than in women.
Speaking about the findings, lead author of the study, Professor David Crabb, professor of statistics and vision research at City, University of London, explained that there is a lot of research evidence to suggest that men are more likely to put off visits to doctors and healthcare professionals, and that this is “likely to be true for visiting an optometrist too.”
He added: “Our [study’s] results add to this evidence because it suggests men are more likely to present at clinics with advanced visual field loss when they get a diagnosis of glaucoma.”
Professor Crabb explained that, while the effect “wasn’t huge, it is certainly noteworthy.”
The study’s findings are also reinforced by research recently released by the College of Optometrists that reported that women place a higher value on sight tests and visit their community optometrist more often than men. This also extends beyond eye health, with men attending their GP 50% less than women, on average.