April is Women's Eye Health and Safety Month.
The many stages of a woman's life can have an impact on her vision. Eye disease in women is becoming more common, particularly in aging women. Actually, studies show that the majority of women over the age of 40 have some type of eyesight impairment, and are at risk of developing conditions including but not limited to cataracts, dry eye, glaucoma and diabetes-related retinopathy. It's interesting to note that the risk of women developing vision impairments has become more common because of the female population's increasing lifespan.
As a woman, the first step you can take to ensure healthy sight is to schedule a periodic eye exam. Be sure that you get a comprehensive eye test before you hit 40, and that you don't forget to adhere to the advice your eye doctor suggests. Also, know your family history, as your genes are an important detail of comprehending, diagnosing and stopping eye diseases. Don't forget to examine your family's medical history and alert your eye doctor of any illnesses present themselves.
In addition, eat a healthy, varied diet and make sure to include foods rich in zinc, omega-3 fats and beta carotene, which all help protect against vision loss as a result of eye disease. It's recommended that you also buy vitamin C, riboflavin and vitamin A supplements, which are all great starting points to maintaining top-notch eye health.
If you smoke, make a commitment to stop, because even second-hand smoke can raise the risk of eye disease and is a proven cause of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. Ultraviolet rays, which can also aid in the development of cataracts and AMD, are extremely harmful to your eyes. When you go outside, and during the summer AND winter, make sure to put on 100% UV protective sunglasses as well as a wide brimmed hat to shield your eyes from the sun.
Hormonal shifts such as what might take place during pregnancy and menopause, can also affect your vision. Often, these changes can even make the use of contacts ineffective or slightly painful. If you're pregnant, you may want to decrease contact lens wearing time and update your prescription as needed. It's worthwhile to make an appointment with your eye doctor at some point during your pregnancy to discuss any eye or vision shifts you may be noticing.
It is also important to shield your eyes from dangers at home, like domestic cleaners. Check that domestic chemicals, including cleaning agents, bleach and fertilizers are kept safely and are locked away from young children. Wash your hands thoroughly after working with all chemicals and invest in eye protection when using strong chemicals. Wear proper safety goggles when repairing things at home, most importantly when working with potentially dangerous objects or tools.
As a woman, it is important to be aware of the risks and choices when it comes to looking after your vision. And of course, it can never hurt to inform the women you know, like your daughters and friends, about how to look after their eyes and vision.