In April, Prevent Blindness America addresses eye health issues specific to women.
Women go through many changes during their lifetime. Each change could affect her vision differently. Eye disease among the female population is becoming more common, more notably in aging women. Actually, studies show that large numbers of women aged 40 and above experience some sort of eyesight impairment, and risk developing conditions such as dry eyes, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma. It's worth noting that the risk of women experiencing vision loss has increased because of women's increasing longevity.
As a woman, the first step to take to maintain strong vision is to make a full eye exam part of your normal health routine. Make sure that you get a full eye checkup before you turn 40, and that you follow up with the care your eye doctor encourages. Additionally, know your family medical history, as your genes are an important factor in comprehending, diagnosing and stopping vision loss. Be sure to find out about your family's medical history and inform your doctor of any conditions present themselves.
In addition, maintain a healthful, well-balanced diet and make sure to include foods containing zinc, omega-3 fats and beta carotene, all which help prevent vision loss from eye disease. You can also take vitamin C, riboflavin and vitamin A supplements, which are all strong starting points to managing optimal eye care.
For smokers, make a commitment to stop, as even second-hand smoke can add to the risk of eye disease and is a common cause of the macular degeneration that can come with aging (AMD), as well as cataracts. Ultraviolet rays, which can also be a party to the development of cataracts and AMD, are very dangerous for your eyes. When outside, and not just during the summer, be sure to wear complete UV blocking sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat to protect your eyes from harsh rays.
Hormonal shifts such as those that take place when a woman goes through pregnancy or menopause, can also slightly change your sight. Often, these changes can even make the use of contact lenses less effective or uncomfortable. During pregnancy, you may want to decrease lens wearing time and adjust your prescription as needed. It's worthwhile to make an appointment with your optometrist at some point during your pregnancy to discuss any eyesight or vision changes you may be noticing.
It is also important to protect your eyes from risks at home, like domestic cleaners. Check that domestic chemicals, including cleaning agents, bleach and fertilizers are stored safely and properly, and are out of reach of young children. Clean your hands thoroughly after working with all chemicals and wear eye protection when using toxic chemicals. Use safety goggles when repairing things in your house, most importantly when working with potentially dangerous objects or power tools.
If used irresponsibly, cosmetics can also be a safety risk for your eyes. Firstly, you should never use anyone else's products. Avoid using old eye shadow, mascara or eyeliner and discard anything that's been open for more than four months, especially anything that's liquid based. Watch for allergic reactions and stop use immediately if you spot inflammation in or around the eyes. Be aware also that you might actually develop allergic reactions to products you've been fine with for years. And of course, be sure to avoid actual contact with the eye when using eyeliners, shadows and mascara.
Women need to be aware of the risks and options when it comes to your eye care. And of course, it can never hurt to educate the women you know, like your daughters and friends, on the best ways to protect their eye health.