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 could have a strong impact on her eye health and vision. Eye disease among the female population is being diagnosed in increasing numbers, especially in middle-aged women. In fact, studies show that large numbers of women over the age of 40 exhibit some degree of eyesight impairment, and may be in danger of developing conditions such as dry eyes, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma. It's interesting to note that the chance of women being diagnosed with vision impairments has grown because of women's growing longevity.
As a woman, an important step to take to ensure healthy vision is to schedule a routine eye exam. Be sure that you have a full eye test before you hit forty, and that you follow up with the advice your eye care professional encourages. Additionally, know your family medical history, as your genes are an important factor in understanding, diagnosing and stopping eye diseases.
In addition, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and be sure to include foods rich in beta carotene, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, which all help guard from eyesight loss due to eye disease. You can also buy vitamin C, riboflavin and vitamin A tablets, as they are all good starting points to maintaining top-notch eye care.
For women who smoke, make a decision to stop, because even second-hand smoke can add to the risk of eye disease and is a proven cause of the macular degeneration that can come with aging (AMD) and cataracts. Ultraviolet rays, which can also be a party to the development of cataracts and AMD, are extremely harmful to your vision. When outside, and during the summer AND winter, don't forget to wear 100% UV protective sunglasses as well as a wide brimmed hat that will protect your eyes from the sun.
Hormonal changes such as what might take place when a woman goes through pregnancy and menopause, can also affect your vision. Often, these changes can even make the use of contact lenses ineffective or slightly painful. During pregnancy, you might want to shorten contact lens wearing time and update your eyeglass prescription if necessary. It's recommended to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor at some point during your pregnancy to talk about any eye or vision changes you may be noticing.
It is also important to shield your eyes from risks at home, like cleaning supplies. Be sure that household chemicals, including cleaning agents, paints and pesticides are stored safely and are locked away from small children. Scrub your hands thoroughly after handling all chemicals and use eye protection if using toxic substances. Use proper safety goggles when repairing things in your house, especially when working with potentially dangerous objects or tools.
Women need to be educated about the risks and considerations when it comes to your eye care. And of course, it can't hurt to inform the other women in your life, such as daughters and friends, about how to look after their eyes and vision.