This month, Prevent Blindness America is focusing on Women's Eye Health and Safety.
It's no surprise that the various stages of a woman's life often have a strong impact on her eye health and vision. Eye disease among women is becoming more common, particularly in older women. Actually, studies indicate that large numbers of women aged 40 and above experience some degree of eyesight impairment, and are at risk of developing conditions including but not limited to cataracts, dry eye, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. It's interesting to note that the chance of women being diagnosed with vision loss has increased due to women's increasing longevity.
As a woman, an initial step to take to maintain strong sight is to make a full eye examination part of your normal health routine. Make sure that you get a full eye test before you hit 40, and that you don't forget to adhere to the care your eye doctor encourages. Secondly, be aware of your family history, as your genetics are an important factor in comprehending, diagnosing and stopping eye conditions. Be sure to look into your family's eye and health history and alert your eye doctor of any illnesses that show up.
In addition, maintain a healthful, well-balanced diet and make sure to include foods containing zinc, omega-3 fats and beta carotene, which all help protect against vision loss due to eye disease. You can also take vitamin A, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C supplements, which are all great starting points to keeping up optimal eye care.
If you smoke, make a decision to stop, because even second-hand smoke can raise the danger of eye disease and is a common factor in the macular degeneration that can come with aging (AMD) and cataracts. UV rays, which can also aid in the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, are extremely harmful for your vision. When you go outside, and during the summer AND winter, don't forget to put on 100% UV protective sunglasses and a sun hat to protect your eyes from the sun.
Changes in hormone levels, like those that take place when a woman goes through pregnancy and menopause, can also affect your sight. Often, these changes can even make contact lenses ineffective or slightly painful. During pregnancy, you may want to decrease lens wearing time and update your eyeglass prescription as needed. It's recommended to book an appointment with your optometrist at some point during your pregnancy to discuss any eyesight or vision differences you may be noticing.
It is also important to protect your eyes from dangers at home, like cleaning supplies. Be sure that domestic chemicals, including cleaners, paints and fertilizers are kept safely and are out of reach of small children. Scrub your hands thoroughly after touching all chemicals and use eye protection when employing the use of toxic substances. Use proper safety goggles when repairing things around the house, especially when working with potentially dangerous objects or tools.
As a woman, it is important to be informed of the risks and considerations when it comes to your eye care. And also, it can never hurt to educate the women you know, like your daughters and friends, about how to look after their eye health.