This month, Prevent Blindness America is focusing on Women's Eye Health and Safety.
Women go through many changes during their lifetime. Each change could affect her vision differently. Eye disease among the female population is being diagnosed in growing numbers, especially in older women. Actually, studies indicate that large numbers of women aged 40 and above experience some degree of visual 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 risk of women developing vision impairments has become more common as a result of women's increasing longevity.
As a woman, an initial step to take to maintain strong sight is to schedule a routine eye exam. Be sure that you get a comprehensive eye test before reaching the age of forty, and that you adhere to the care your eye doctor recommends. Also, be familiar with your family history, as your genetics are a highly relevant detail of understanding, diagnosing and stopping vision loss.
When it comes to nutrition, maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet and be sure to include foods full of beta carotene, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, which all help prevent vision loss from eye disease. It's recommended that you also take vitamin A, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C supplements, which are all great starting points to managing top-notch eye care.
For smokers, make a decision to stop, as even second-hand smoke can raise the risk of eye disease and is a known cause of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), as well as cataracts. Ultraviolet rays, which can also aid in the development of cataracts and AMD, are very harmful for your vision. When you go outside, and not just during the summer, make sure to put on complete UV blocking sunglasses as well as a sun hat that will shield your eyes from the sun.
Hormonal shifts like what might occur due to pregnancy or menopause, can also affect your vision. Often, these changes can even make contact lenses ineffective or slightly painful to wear. If you're pregnant, you might want to shorten lens wearing time and adjust your eyeglass prescription if necessary. It's recommended to book an appointment with your eye care professional at some point during your pregnancy to address any eye or vision shifts you may be experiencing.
There are also measures to take to protect your eyes from dangers at home, such as cleaning supplies. Be sure that household chemicals, including cleaners, bleach and strong detergents are stored safely and properly, and are out of reach of young children. Wash your hands properly after touching all chemicals and invest in eye protection when using toxic chemicals. Use safety goggles when repairing things in your house, most importantly when working with wood, metal or power tools.
If used irresponsibly, cosmetics might also be a safety hazard for your eyes. Firstly, never use anyone else's products. Try not to use old eye shadow, mascara or eyeliner and discard anything that's been open for more than about four months, particularly cosmetics that are aqueous. Keep an eye out for abnormal reactions and stop use right away if you see pain, itchiness or redness in or near the eyes. Be aware also that you might actually develop allergic reactions to a product you've been buying for years. And of course, be sure to avoid actual contact with the eye when putting on eye makeup.
Women need to be aware of the dangers and options when it comes to your eye care. And of course, it can't hurt to inform the women in your life, such as daughters and friends, about how to look after their eye health.