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Women’s Vision and Eye Health

In April, Prevent Blindness America addresses eye health issues specific to women.

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 becoming more common, especially in aging women. Actually, studies indicate that most women over the age of 40 experience some degree of visual impairment, and may be in danger of developing conditions such as cataracts, dry eyes, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. It's worth noting that the risk of women experiencing vision impairments has become more common because of women's increasing longevity.

For women, the first step to take to maintain strong sight is to schedule a periodic eye exam. Make sure that you get a full eye test before reaching the age of 40, and that you don't forget to follow up with the care your eye doctor recommends. Secondly, know your family medical history, as your genes are a key factor in comprehending, diagnosing and stopping eye diseases.

In addition, eat a healthful, well-balanced diet and don't forget to include foods containing beta carotene, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, all which help protect against vision loss due to eye disease. It's recommended that you also buy vitamin C, riboflavin and vitamin A tablets, which are all strong starting points to maintaining optimal eye health.

If you smoke, make a commitment to quit, because even second-hand smoke can add to the danger of eye disease and is a common factor in the macular degeneration that can come with aging (AMD), as well as cataracts. UV rays, which can also be a party to the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, are very harmful for your vision. When outside, and during the summer AND winter, be sure to wear 100% UV protective sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat that will protect your eyes from harsh rays.

Hormonal shifts like what might take place during pregnancy and menopause, can also slightly change your sight. Sometimes, these shifts can even make the use of contact lenses ineffective or slightly painful to wear. During pregnancy, you might want to shorten contact lens wearing time and adjust your eyeglass prescription if necessary. It's worthwhile to book an appointment with your eye care professional during your pregnancy to discuss any eye or vision shifts you may be noticing.

There are also several measures to take to shield your eyes from household dangers, such as cleaning supplies. Be sure that household chemicals, including cleaning agents, bleach and strong detergents are stored safely and are locked away from young children. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling all chemicals and wear eye protection if employing the use of strong substances. Wear safety goggles when repairing things around the house, most importantly when working with wood, metal or tools.

As a woman, it is important to be educated about the dangers and considerations when it comes to caring for your eyes. And of course, it can never hurt to inform the other women in your life, such as daughters and friends, about how to protect their eye and vision health.