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A Look At Women’s 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 increasingly common, more notably in aging women. In fact, studies show that large numbers of women over the age of 40 exhibit some type of visual impairment, and risk developing conditions including but not limited to dry eyes, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma. It's interesting to note that the chance of women being diagnosed with vision loss has increased as a result of the female population's increasing lifespan.

As a woman, an important step to take to ensure strong vision is to make a thorough eye examination part of your normal health check up. Be sure to go get a comprehensive eye exam before reaching the age of forty, and that you adhere to the care your eye doctor encourages. Also, be aware of your family history, as your genes are a key detail of comprehending, diagnosing and preventing eye conditions.

When it comes to nutrition, eat a healthful, varied diet and don't forget to include foods containing zinc, omega-3 fats and beta carotene, all which help prevent vision loss due to eye disease. You can also take vitamin A, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C supplements, as they are all strong starting points to managing top-notch eye care.

For smokers, make a commitment to stop, because even second-hand smoke can add to the risk 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 cause the development of cataracts and AMD, are extremely dangerous for your eyes. When you go outside, and not just during the summer, make sure to put on 100% UV protective sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat that will shield your eyes from harsh rays.

Changes in hormone levels, like those that take place due to pregnancy or menopause, can also influence your sight. Sometimes, these changes can even make contact lenses ineffective or slightly painful. During pregnancy, you may want to reduce lens wearing time and update your prescription if necessary. It's recommended to schedule an appointment with your optometrist at some point during your pregnancy to talk about any eyesight or vision differences you may be experiencing.

There are also precautions to take to protect your eyes from household dangers, such as domestic cleaners. Be sure that household chemicals, including cleaners, bleach and strong detergents are kept safely and properly, and are out of reach of small children. Clean your hands well after touching all chemicals and wear eye protection if using strong substances. Wear safety goggles when repairing things around the house, especially when working with wood, metal or power tools.

If used carelessly, cosmetics might also be a safety risk for your eyes. Firstly, you should never use anyone else's cosmetics. Avoid using old eye shadow, mascara or eyeliner and dispose of anything that's been open for more than about four months, especially products that are liquid based. Keep an eye out for any abnormal reactions and stop use immediately if you spot inflammation in or around the eyes. Be aware also that you might develop allergic reactions to products you've been using for years. And as a general rule, be sure to avoid actual contact with the eye when applying eyeliners, shadows and mascara.

Women need to be aware of the risks and options when it comes to caring for your eyes. And also, it can't hurt to educate the other women in your life, like your daughters and friends, about how to protect their eye and vision health.