April is Women's Eye Health and Safety Month.
The many stages of a woman's life can have an impact on her vision. Eye disease in women is increasingly common, more notably in aging women. In fact, studies show that most women going through middle age exhibit some type of visual impairment, and are at risk of developing conditions including but not limited to dry eyes, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma. It's worth noting that the risk of women developing vision impairments has increased because of women's growing lifespan.
As a woman, an important step to take to ensure healthy vision is to schedule a routine eye exam. Be sure that you have an extensive eye test before reaching the age of forty, and that you don't forget to follow up with the care your eye care professional recommends. Also, be familiar with your family medical history, as your genetics are a key detail of understanding, diagnosing and stopping vision loss.
In addition, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and be sure to include foods full of beta carotene, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, which all help prevent vision loss from eye disease. You can also buy vitamin A, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C tablets, as they are all strong starting points to managing top-notch eye care.
For women who smoke, make a commitment to stop, 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) and cataracts. Ultraviolet rays, which can also lead to the development of cataracts and AMD, are very dangerous for your vision. When outside, and not just during the summer, make sure to put on complete UV blocking sunglasses and a sun hat to protect your eyes from harsh rays.
Hormonal shifts like what might occur due to pregnancy and menopause, can also slightly change your sight. Sometimes, these changes can even make the use of contact lenses ineffective or slightly painful to wear. If you're pregnant, you might want to decrease contact lens wearing time and adjust your prescription as needed. It's recommended to make an appointment with your optometrist at some point during your pregnancy to talk about any eyesight or vision shifts you may be noticing.
There are also precautions to take to shield your eyes from risks at home, such as domestic cleaners. Check that household chemicals, including cleaning agents, bleach and pesticides are stored safely and are locked away from young children. Wash your hands properly after handling all chemicals and wear eye protection when using strong substances. Use proper safety goggles when fixing 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 considerations when it comes to looking after your vision. And of course, it can't hurt to inform the women in your life, such as daughters and friends, on the best ways to protect their eyes and vision.