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Women’s Eye Health

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 women is increasingly common, especially in older women. Actually, studies show that most women aged 40 and above experience some type of eyesight impairment, and risk developing conditions including but not limited to dry eyes, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma. It’s interesting to note that the risk of women developing vision impairments has become more common due to the female population’s increasing lifespan.

As a woman, an important step to take to ensure strong sight is to schedule a periodic eye exam. Make sure that you get a comprehensive eye checkup before reaching the age of 40, and that you don’t forget to follow up with the advice your eye care professional recommends. Also, be aware of your family medical history, because your genes are an important part of understanding, diagnosing and stopping eye diseases.

In addition, eat 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 eyesight loss as a result of eye disease. If possible, you should also buy vitamin C, riboflavin and vitamin A supplements, as they are all strong starting points to keeping up top-notch eye health.

For smokers, make a decision to quit, because even second-hand smoke can increase the risk of eye disease and is a proven factor in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. Ultraviolet rays, which can also lead to the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, are very dangerous for your eyes. When you go outside, and not just during the summer, make sure to put on complete UV blocking sunglasses as well as a wide brimmed hat to protect your eyes from harsh rays.

Hormonal shifts like what might occur during pregnancy and menopause, can also influence your sight. Often, these changes can even make contacts ineffective or uncomfortable. If you’re pregnant, you may want to shorten lens wearing time and alter your eyeglass prescription as needed. It’s recommended to make an appointment with your optometrist at some point during your pregnancy to discuss any eyesight or vision shifts you may be noticing.

It is also important to shield your eyes from household dangers, such as cleaning supplies. Be sure that domestic chemicals, including cleaners, paints and fertilizers are stored safely and properly, and are out of reach of young children. Scrub your hands well after touching all chemicals and wear eye protection when using strong substances. Wear safety goggles when repairing things around the house, most importantly when working with wood, metal or tools.

If used incorrectly, eye makeup might also be a safety hazard for your eyes. Firstly, never use anyone else’s cosmetics. Try not to use old eye makeup and discard anything that’s been open for more than four months, especially cosmetics that are aqueous. Watch for any allergic reactions and stop use right away if you spot inflammation in or around the eyes. Be aware also that you might develop allergic reactions to a product you’ve been using for years. And of course, be sure to avoid actual contact with the eye when applying eyeliners, shadows and mascara.

Women need to be informed of the dangers and choices when it comes to looking after your vision. And of course, it can’t hurt to inform the women you know, such as daughters and friends, about how to look after their eyes and vision.