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Men are providers, givers and often seen as the ones who hardly fall ill, because they are built tough! However, men experience some major eye challenges. For International Men’s Day, we look at some eye challenges common to men.

Common eye conditions that affect men:

X-Linked Juvenile Retinoschisis 

This is a condition characterised by impaired vision that occurs almost only in males and begins in early childhood. The disorder affects the retina. It is usually diagnosed when affected boys start school as that is when poor vision and difficulty with reading become apparent. Eye squinting and nystagmus could begin in infancy in more serious cases.

Other early features of the condition include eyes that do not look in the same direction (strabismus) and long sightedness. Vision usually reduces in childhood and adolescence and stabilises throughout adulthood until it begins to decline significantly in the fifties or sixties. Severe complications could sometimes develop, such as detachment of the retina or leakage of blood vessels in the retina. These developments can further impair vision or cause blindness.

Cone-Rod Dystrophy with Decreased Male Fertility

This is a progressive retinal disease in combination with sperm abnormalities which cause a reduction in their number and motility resulting in male infertility. Severe loss of vision may occur in children, but most persons see well until their 50’s.  They may notice problems with colour vision and light sensitivity (photophobia) but the disease is progressive and there is continued loss of vision throughout the patient’s life.  Most of the loss is in central vision, especially early on, but eventually peripheral vision is also affected.

Leber Optic Atrophy

Most person have no symptoms until about 30 years of age when they suddenly experience an acute, painless loss of vision on one eye (sometimes both eyes).  This is often followed about two months later by the same symptoms in the other eye.  In a few patients the loss of vision takes place over several months to a year, but in most cases vision loss is much more rapid.  Some recovery of vision may occur but this is uncommon.  Males are affected four times more often than females for unknown reasons. Other symptoms such as unsteadiness, loss of sensation, and some muscle weakness are less common and severe.  A few patients have heart rhythm abnormalities.

Colour Blindness

Colour blindness or deficiency affects more men than women. Approximately 1 in 12 men (8%) and 1 in 200 women in the world have a form of colour blindness but in sub-Saharan Africa there are few colour blind people.  Colour blindness means the instructions for the development of the cells responsible for colour discrimination (cone cells) were faulty and the cone cells might be missing, or less sensitive to light. Or it may be that the pathway from your cone cells to your brain has not developed correctly. There are different types of colour blindness.

  • Red/green colour blindness is passed from mother to son and is more common in men.
  • Blue colour blindness affects both men and women equally.

Most people who are considered “colour blind” can see colours, but certain colours appear washed out and are easily confused with other colours, depending on the type of colour vision deficiency they have. Being ‘red/green colour blind’ doesn’t mean people with it mix up red and green only. It means they can mix colours which have some red or green as part of the whole colour. So, someone with red/green colour blindness will probably confuse blue and purple because they can’t ‘see’ the red element of the colour purple.


Men need regular eye tests and proper eye care just like women and children do. Contact us for more information on eye care for men and boys. As we celebrate International Men’s day, we wish all fathers health in mind body and eyes.