April is Women's Eye Health and Safety Month.
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 in women is increasingly common, more notably in aging women. In fact, studies show that large numbers of women going through middle age have some type of visual impairment, and risk developing conditions such as dry eyes, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma. It's interesting to note that the risk of women experiencing vision loss has grown as a result of women's growing lifespan.
As a woman, an important step to take to guarantee good vision is to make a full eye exam part of your regular health check up. Make sure to go get an extensive eye test before you hit forty, and that you don't forget to adhere to the care your eye doctor suggests. Also, be familiar with your family medical history, as your genes are a key part of comprehending, diagnosing and stopping eye diseases. Be sure to find out about your family's medical history and alert your eye doctor of any conditions present themselves.
When it comes to nutrition, maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet and make sure to include foods rich in zinc, omega-3 fats and beta carotene, which all help prevent vision loss as a result of eye disease. You can also take vitamin C, riboflavin and vitamin A supplements, as they are all great starting points to managing optimal eye health.
If you smoke, make a decision to stop, as 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), as well as cataracts. Ultraviolet rays, which can also lead to the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, are extremely harmful for your eyes. When outside, and during the summer AND winter, be sure to put on 100% UV protective sunglasses as well as a wide brimmed hat to shield your eyes from harsh rays.
Changes in hormone levels, such as what might take place due to pregnancy and menopause, can also affect your vision. Sometimes, these changes can even make contacts less effective or slightly painful. During pregnancy, you might want to reduce lens wearing time and adjust your prescription if necessary. It's recommended to make an appointment with your optometrist during your pregnancy to talk about any eyesight or vision differences you may be experiencing.
It is also important to shield your eyes from risks at home, like cleaning supplies. Be sure that household chemicals, including cleaners, paints and fertilizers are kept safely and properly, and are locked away from small children. Wash your hands well after handling all chemicals and use eye protection when employing the use of strong chemicals. Use proper safety goggles when fixing 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 options when it comes to caring for your eyes. And of course, it can't hurt to educate the other women you know, like your daughters and friends, about how to protect their eye health.