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Women and Healthy Vision

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, particularly in older women. Actually, studies show that most women going through middle age exhibit some degree of eyesight impairment, and may be in danger of developing conditions like cataracts, dry eyes, glaucoma and diabetes-related retinopathy. It's worth noting that the chance of women developing vision impairments has grown because of women's increasing longevity.

For women, the first step to take to ensure good vision is to make a thorough eye test part of your regular health check up. Be sure that you get an extensive eye test before you hit 40, and that you adhere to the care your eye care professional recommends. Additionally, be familiar with your family medical history, as your genetics are a highly relevant part of comprehending, diagnosing and preventing eye conditions. Don't forget to look into your family's eye and health history and alert your eye doctor of any conditions that show up.

When it comes to nutrition, maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet and make sure to include foods rich in beta carotene, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, which all help guard from eyesight loss due to eye disease. You can also take vitamin A, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C tablets, which are all strong starting points to maintaining optimal eye care.

For smokers, make a commitment to stop, because even second-hand smoke can add to the risk of eye disease and is a known cause of the macular degeneration that can come with aging (AMD) and cataracts. Ultraviolet rays, which can also cause the development of cataracts and AMD, are extremely harmful for your vision. When outside, and during the summer AND winter, don't forget to wear complete UV blocking sunglasses and a sun hat to shield your eyes from harsh rays.

Hormonal shifts like those that occur due to pregnancy and menopause, can also slightly change your sight. Sometimes, these changes can even make contact lenses ineffective or uncomfortable to wear. During pregnancy, you may want to decrease contact lens wearing time and adjust your eyeglass prescription if necessary. It's recommended to book an appointment with your eye care professional during your pregnancy to address any eye or vision changes you may be experiencing.

It is also important to protect your eyes from dangers at home, such as cleaning supplies. Check that domestic chemicals, including cleaners, bleach and strong detergents are kept safely and are locked away from young children. Clean your hands well after working with all chemicals and wear eye protection if using toxic substances. Wear safety goggles when repairing things in your house, especially when working with wood, metal or tools.

As a woman, it is important to be aware of the risks and choices when it comes to your eye care. And also, it can never hurt to inform the other women in your life, like your daughters and friends, on the best ways to look after their eye and vision health.