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Women and Healthy Vision

This month, Prevent Blindness America is focusing on Women's Eye Health and Safety.

Women go through various stages throughout their lives, and each can impact vision differently. Eye disease among women is becoming more common, particularly in middle-aged women. Actually, studies show that large numbers of women aged 40 and above have some type of eyesight impairment, and are at risk of developing conditions such as dry eyes, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma. It's worth noting that the risk of women experiencing vision impairments has grown due to women's increasing longevity.

For women, an initial step to take to guarantee healthy sight is to make a proper eye exam part of your normal health check up. Make sure to go get a full eye test before you turn 40, and that you follow up with the care your eye care professional encourages. Also, be familiar with your family history, as your genetics are an important factor in understanding, diagnosing and preventing eye diseases.

In addition, maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet and be sure to include foods rich in zinc, omega-3 fats and beta carotene, which all help guard from vision loss due to eye disease. It's recommended that you also buy vitamin A, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C supplements, as they are all strong starting points to keeping up top-notch eye health.

If you smoke, make a commitment to quit, as even second-hand smoke can raise the risk 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 be a party to the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, are very harmful for your vision. When outside, and not just during the summer, make sure to wear 100% UV protective sunglasses as well as a sun hat to protect your eyes from the sun.

Hormonal changes such as those that occur during pregnancy or menopause, can also slightly change your vision. Sometimes, these changes can even make contacts ineffective or slightly painful to wear. If you're pregnant, you might want to reduce lens wearing time and update your prescription as needed. It's worthwhile to make an appointment with your optometrist during your pregnancy to address any eyesight or vision shifts you may be noticing.

There are also several measures to take to protect your eyes from risks at home, like domestic cleaners. Check that household chemicals, including cleaning agents, bleach and pesticides are kept safely and are locked away from small children. Scrub your hands well after handling all chemicals and invest in eye protection if employing the use of toxic chemicals. Use proper safety goggles when repairing things at home, especially when working with potentially dangerous objects or power tools.

When used carelessly, eye makeup can also be a safety hazard for your eyes. Particularly when it comes to eye makeup, never use anyone else's cosmetics. Try not to use old eye shadow, mascara or eyeliner and dispose of anything that's been open for more than four months, particularly products that are aqueous. Look out for abnormal reactions and cease use immediately if you notice redness, itchiness or puffiness in or around the eyes. Be aware also that you might develop allergies to make up you've been fine with for years. And as a general rule, be sure to avoid touching the eye when using eyeliners, shadows and mascara.

Women need to be educated about the dangers and considerations when it comes to caring for your eyes. And of course, it can never hurt to educate the other women in your life, like your daughters and friends, on the best ways to protect their eye and vision health.