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Women’s Eye and Vision Health

It's April, which is Women's Eye Health and Safety Month.

Women go through various stages throughout their lives, and each can impact vision differently. Eye disease among women is becoming more common, particularly in older women. In fact, studies indicate that the majority of women going through middle age have some type of visual impairment, and risk developing conditions like cataracts, dry eyes, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. It's worth noting that the risk of women experiencing vision impairments has increased because of the female population's increasing lifespan.

For women, the first step you can take to ensure healthy sight is to schedule a routine eye exam. Make sure that you have a full eye checkup before you turn 40, and that you don't forget to follow up with the advice your eye doctor suggests. Additionally, know your family history, because your genetics are an important detail of comprehending, diagnosing and preventing eye conditions. Don't forget to find out about your family's medical history and alert your eye doctor of any conditions present themselves.

When it comes to nutrition, eat a healthy, varied diet and make sure to include foods containing zinc, omega-3 fats and beta carotene, all which help protect against vision loss from eye disease. You can also take vitamin C, riboflavin and vitamin A tablets, which are all strong starting points to managing optimal eye health.

For smokers, make a decision to quit, as even second-hand smoke can increase the risk of eye disease and is a known factor in the macular degeneration that can come with aging (AMD), as well as cataracts. UV rays, which can also cause the development of cataracts and AMD, are very harmful for your vision. When you go outside, and not just during the summer, make sure to wear complete UV blocking sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat to shield your eyes from harsh rays.

Hormonal changes like what might occur when a woman goes through pregnancy or menopause, can also influence your vision. Often, these changes can even make the use of contact lenses ineffective or slightly painful to wear. If you're pregnant, you may want to shorten contact lens wearing time and update your eyeglass prescription if necessary. It's recommended to make an appointment with your optometrist during your pregnancy to talk about any eyesight or vision shifts you may be noticing.

There are also several measures to take to protect your eyes from risks at home, like domestic cleaners. Be sure that household chemicals, including cleaners, paints and strong detergents are kept safely and are out of reach of small children. Wash your hands well after handling all chemicals and invest in eye protection when using strong chemicals. Wear proper safety goggles when fixing things around the house, especially when working with potentially dangerous objects or power tools.

Women need to be aware of the risks and considerations when it comes to your eye care. And also, it can never hurt to educate the women in your life, like your daughters and friends, on the best ways to protect their eyes and vision.