In April, Prevent Blindness America addresses eye health issues specific to women.
The many stages of a woman's life can have an impact on her vision. Eye disease among the female population is becoming more common, especially in aging women. In fact, studies show that the majority of women over the age of 40 experience some type of eyesight impairment, and are at risk of developing conditions like dry eyes, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma. It's interesting to note that the chance of women developing vision loss has become more common as a result of the female population's growing longevity.
For women, an initial step to take to maintain good vision is to make a thorough eye examination part of your regular health check up. Be sure to go get a full eye test before you turn 40, and that you don't forget to adhere to the care your eye doctor recommends. Also, be aware of your family history, as your genetics are a key detail of understanding, diagnosing and stopping eye conditions. Be sure to find out about your family's medical history and alert your eye doctor of any diseases present themselves.
In addition, eat 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 as a result of eye disease. You can also take vitamin C, riboflavin and vitamin A supplements, which are all good starting points to keeping up optimal eye health.
If you smoke, make a commitment to stop, because even second-hand smoke can raise the danger of eye disease and is a proven factor in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), as well as cataracts. UV rays, which can also cause the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, are extremely harmful for your vision. When you go outside, and not just during the summer, don't forget to put on 100% UV protective sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat to shield 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 shifts can even make contacts less effective or slightly painful to wear. During pregnancy, you might want to shorten contact lens wearing time and adjust your eyeglass prescription as needed. It's worthwhile to make an appointment with your eye care professional at some point during your pregnancy to talk about any eyesight or vision shifts you may be noticing.
It is also important to shield your eyes from risks at home, such as domestic cleaners. Be sure that household chemicals, including cleaning agents, paints and strong detergents are stored safely and are locked away from young children. Clean your hands well after handling all chemicals and use eye protection when using strong chemicals. Use proper safety goggles when repairing things at home, most importantly when working with potentially dangerous objects or tools.
If used incorrectly, cosmetics can also be a safety hazard for your eyes. Particularly when it comes to eye makeup, never use anyone else's cosmetics. Try not to use old eye shadow, mascara or eyeliner and throw away anything that's been open for more than four months, particularly products that are liquid based. Watch for any allergic reactions and cease use right away if you notice redness, itchiness or puffiness in or around the eyes. Be aware also that you can actually develop allergic reactions to make up you've been fine with for years. And of course, be sure to avoid touching the eye when using eyeliners, shadows and mascara.
Women need to be educated about the risks and options when it comes to your eye care. And also, it can never hurt to educate the other women you know, like your daughters and friends, about how to look after their eye health.