It's April, which is Women's Eye Health and Safety Month.
Women go through many changes during their lifetime. Each change could affect her vision differently. Eye disease in women is becoming more common, especially in middle-aged women. In fact, studies show that large numbers of women going through middle age exhibit some sort of visual impairment, and risk developing conditions like cataracts, dry eye, glaucoma and diabetes-related retinopathy. It's worth noting that the risk of women experiencing vision impairments has increased due to women's growing lifespan.
For women, the first step to take to maintain good vision is to make a proper eye examination part of your normal health check up. Be sure that you have a comprehensive eye exam before you turn 40, and that you follow up with the advice your eye care professional encourages. Also, be aware of your family medical history, because your genes are a key factor in understanding, diagnosing and stopping eye conditions. Be sure to look into your family's medical history and alert your eye doctor of any conditions present themselves.
When it comes to nutrition, eat a healthful, varied diet and don't forget to include foods containing beta carotene, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, all which help prevent vision loss as a result of eye disease. You can also buy vitamin A, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C tablets, which are all strong starting points to keeping up top-notch eye health.
If you smoke, make a commitment to stop, because even second-hand smoke can raise the danger of eye disease and is a known cause of the macular degeneration that can come with aging (AMD), as well as cataracts. Ultraviolet rays, which can also be a party to the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, are very harmful to your eyesight. When outside, and during the summer AND winter, make sure to wear 100% UV protective sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat to protect your eyes from the sun.
Hormonal shifts such as those that occur due to pregnancy and menopause, can also affect your vision. Sometimes, these changes can even make contact lenses ineffective or uncomfortable to wear. During pregnancy, you may want to shorten contact lens wearing time and adjust your eyeglass prescription as needed. It's worthwhile to book an appointment with your optometrist at some point during your pregnancy to address any eye or vision changes you may be noticing.
There are also several measures to take to shield your eyes from risks at home, such as cleaning supplies. Check that household chemicals, including cleaning agents, bleach and fertilizers are kept safely and are locked away from small children. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling all chemicals and invest in eye protection when using toxic substances. Use proper safety goggles when repairing things at home, most importantly when working with wood, metal or tools.
As a woman, it is important to be aware of the dangers and options when it comes to looking after your vision. And also, it can't hurt to inform the women you know, such as daughters and friends, about how to look after their eye health.