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Women’s Vision and Eye 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 the female population is becoming more common, more notably in middle-aged women. In fact, studies indicate that most women over the age of 40 have some type of eyesight impairment, and are at risk of developing conditions like dry eyes, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma. It's interesting to note that the chance of women developing vision impairments has increased due to the female population's increasing longevity.

As a woman, an important step to take to maintain good vision is to make a full eye test part of your normal health check up. Be sure that you have a comprehensive eye exam before reaching the age of forty, and that you don't forget to adhere to the advice your eye doctor recommends. Additionally, be familiar with your family medical history, because your genes are a highly relevant part of comprehending, diagnosing and preventing eye conditions. Be sure to find out about your family's eye and health history and inform your doctor of any diseases present themselves.

In addition, eat a healthy, varied diet and don't forget to include foods rich in zinc, omega-3 fats and beta carotene, all which help prevent eyesight loss from eye disease. You can also take vitamin C, riboflavin and vitamin A tablets, as they are all great starting points to maintaining optimal eye health.

For women who smoke, make a decision to stop, because even second-hand smoke can increase the risk of eye disease and is a proven factor in the macular degeneration that can come with aging (AMD), as well as cataracts. Ultraviolet rays, which can also lead to the development of cataracts and AMD, are extremely dangerous to your eyesight. When outside, and during the summer AND winter, don't forget to put on complete UV blocking sunglasses as well as a sun hat to protect your eyes from the sun.

Hormonal changes like what might occur due to pregnancy and menopause, can also affect your sight. Often, these shifts can even make the use of contact lenses less effective or slightly painful. If you're pregnant, you might want to shorten contact lens wearing time and alter your eyeglass prescription as needed. It's worthwhile to book an appointment with your eye care professional at some point during your pregnancy to talk about any eye or vision differences you may be experiencing.

It is also important to protect your eyes from risks at home, such as cleaning supplies. Be sure that household chemicals, including cleaning agents, bleach and strong detergents are stored safely and are out of reach of small children. Wash your hands well after working with all chemicals and wear eye protection if employing the use of strong substances. Use safety goggles when repairing things in your house, especially when working with potentially dangerous objects or tools.

If used carelessly, cosmetics can also be a safety risk for your eyes. Firstly, you should never use anyone else's products. Avoid using old eye makeup and dispose of anything that's older than four months, especially cosmetics that are liquid based. Watch for any abnormal reactions and stop use right away if you notice redness, itchiness or puffiness in or around the eyes. Be aware also that you can actually develop allergic reactions to make up you've been using for years. And as a general rule, be sure to avoid actual contact with the eye when using eyeliners, shadows and mascara.

As a woman, it is important to be aware of the dangers and considerations when it comes to your eye care. And also, it can never hurt to inform the other women in your life, such as daughters and friends, about how to protect their eye and vision health.