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Women’s Eye Health

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

Women go through many changes during their lifetime. Each change could affect her vision differently. Eye disease among women is becoming more common, especially in middle-aged women. Actually, studies show that large numbers of women aged 40 and above exhibit some type of visual impairment, and may be in danger of developing conditions including but not limited to cataracts, dry eye, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. It's interesting to note that the chance of women developing vision impairments has increased due to the female population's growing lifespan.

For women, the first step to take to guarantee good vision is to make an extensive eye examination part of your regular health check up. Be sure that you get an extensive eye checkup before you hit 40, and that you follow up with the care your eye care professional encourages. Additionally, know your family medical history, as your genes are a key part of understanding, diagnosing and stopping vision loss. Be sure to look into your family's medical history and alert your eye doctor of any illnesses that show up.

When it comes to nutrition, maintain a healthy, varied diet and be sure to include foods rich in zinc, omega-3 fats and beta carotene, all which help guard from eyesight loss as a result of eye disease. You can also buy vitamin C, riboflavin and vitamin A tablets, which are all strong starting points to managing optimal eye care.

If you smoke, make a decision to quit, as even second-hand smoke can raise the risk of eye disease and is a known cause of the macular degeneration that can come with aging (AMD) and 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, make sure to put on 100% UV protective sunglasses as well as a wide brimmed hat that will shield your eyes from the sun.

Hormonal shifts like what might take place when a woman goes through pregnancy or menopause, can also affect your sight. Often, these changes can even make contact lenses 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 book an appointment with your optometrist during your pregnancy to talk about any eyesight or vision differences 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, bleach and fertilizers are stored safely and are locked away from small children. Clean your hands well after touching all chemicals and wear eye protection if employing the use of toxic substances. Use safety goggles when fixing things in your house, most importantly when working with potentially dangerous objects or power tools.

If used carelessly, eye makeup might also be a safety hazard for your eyes. Firstly, never use anyone else's products. Try not to use old eye makeup and throw away anything that's been open for more than about four months, particularly cosmetics that are aqueous. Look out for allergic reactions and cease use immediately if you notice redness, itchiness or puffiness in or near the eyes. Be aware also that you might develop allergic reactions to make up you've been buying for years. Also, be sure to avoid touching the eye when putting on eyeliners, shadows and mascara.

As a woman, it is important to be informed of the dangers and choices when it comes to caring for your eyes. And of course, it can't hurt to inform the other women in your life, such as daughters and friends, on the best ways to protect their eyes and vision.