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Women and Healthy Vision

In April, Prevent Blindness America addresses eye health issues specific to women.

Women go through many changes during their lifetime. Each change could affect her vision differently. Eye disease in women is being diagnosed in growing numbers, especially in middle-aged women. In fact, studies indicate that large numbers of women over the age of 40 have some sort of visual impairment, and are at risk of developing conditions such as dry eyes, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma. It's interesting to note that the risk of women developing vision impairments has become more common as a result of the female population's increasing longevity.

As a woman, the first step to take to guarantee strong vision is to make a full eye test part of your regular health routine. Make sure to go get a full eye checkup before you hit forty, and that you follow up with the care your eye doctor recommends. Additionally, be aware of your family history, because your genetics are a highly relevant factor in comprehending, diagnosing and preventing eye diseases.

When it comes to nutrition, eat a healthful, well-balanced diet and make sure to include foods full of zinc, omega-3 fats and beta carotene, all which help prevent vision loss from eye disease. It's recommended that you also take vitamin C, riboflavin and vitamin A tablets, as they are all good starting points to keeping up optimal eye health.

If you smoke, make a commitment to quit, as even second-hand smoke can add to the risk of eye disease and is a common 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 age-related macular degeneration, are very dangerous to your vision. When outside, and during the summer AND winter, make sure to put on 100% UV protective sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat that will protect your eyes from the sun.

Hormonal changes like what might take place due to pregnancy and menopause, can also influence your vision. Sometimes, these shifts can even make contact lenses less effective or slightly painful. During pregnancy, you may want to decrease contact lens wearing time and alter your eyeglass prescription if necessary. It's recommended to make an appointment with your eye care professional 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 risks at home, such as domestic cleaners. Check that household chemicals, including cleaners, paints and pesticides are kept safely and are locked away from small children. Scrub your hands thoroughly after working with all chemicals and wear eye protection if employing the use of toxic chemicals. Use proper 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. Particularly when it comes to eye makeup, never use anyone else's products. Avoid using old makeup and dispose of anything that's been open for more than four months, especially products that are liquid based. Watch for abnormal reactions and cease use right away if you spot inflammation in or around the eyes. Be aware also that you can actually develop allergic reactions to a product 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 informed of the risks and considerations when it comes to your eye care. And also, it can't hurt to educate the women you know, like your daughters and friends, about how to look after their eye and vision health.

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