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Women and Eye Care

April is Women's Eye Health and Safety Month.

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 among the female population is increasingly common, particularly in middle-aged women. In fact, studies indicate that large numbers of women aged 40 and above experience some type of visual impairment, and may be in danger of developing conditions such as dry eyes, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma. It's interesting to note that the chance of women experiencing vision loss has increased as a result of women's increasing lifespan.

As a woman, an initial step you can take to maintain healthy vision is to make a full eye examination part of your normal health routine. Be sure to go get an extensive eye exam before reaching the age of forty, and that you adhere to the advice your eye care professional recommends. Also, be familiar with your family medical history, as your genes are a key factor in understanding, diagnosing and stopping eye conditions.

In addition, maintain a healthful, well-balanced diet and be sure to include foods full of zinc, omega-3 fats and beta carotene, which all help prevent vision loss due to eye disease. If possible, you should also buy vitamin A, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C tablets, as they are all good starting points to managing top-notch eye health.

If you smoke, make a commitment to quit, as even second-hand smoke can add to the danger of eye disease and is a common 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 extremely harmful to your eyes. When outside, and during the summer AND winter, be sure to wear complete UV blocking sunglasses as well as a wide brimmed hat that will shield your eyes from the sun.

Changes in hormone levels, like what might take place when a woman goes through pregnancy and menopause, can also affect your vision. Often, these shifts can even make the use of contacts ineffective or uncomfortable. If you're pregnant, you may want to decrease lens wearing time and update your prescription as needed. It's worthwhile to book an appointment with your eye doctor at some point during your pregnancy to address any eye or vision changes you may be experiencing.

There are also measures to take to protect your eyes from dangers at home, such as domestic cleaners. Be sure that domestic chemicals, including cleaning agents, paints and fertilizers are kept safely and properly, and are out of reach of young children. Scrub your hands properly after working with all chemicals and wear eye protection when using toxic substances. Use safety goggles when repairing things at home, most importantly when working with potentially dangerous objects or tools.

Women need to be aware of the dangers and considerations when it comes to your eye care. And of course, it can't hurt to educate the women in your life, like your daughters and friends, on the best ways to protect their eye and vision health.