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Women and Healthy Vision

April is Women's Eye Health and Safety Month.

Women go through many changes during their lifetime. Each change could affect her vision differently. Eye disease among the female population is increasingly common, particularly in aging women. In fact, studies show that large numbers of women aged 40 and above have some sort of visual impairment, and may be in danger of developing conditions including but not limited to dry eyes, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma. It's interesting to note that the chance of women being diagnosed with vision loss has become more common as a result of the female population's increasing lifespan.

For women, the first step to take to maintain healthy sight is to make an extensive eye exam part of your normal health routine. Make sure that you get a full eye checkup before you hit forty, and that you don't forget to follow up with the care your eye doctor suggests. Also, be familiar with your family history, because your genetics are an important detail of comprehending, diagnosing and preventing eye conditions.

In addition, maintain a healthful, varied diet and make sure to include foods rich in zinc, omega-3 fats and beta carotene, which all help protect against vision loss due to eye disease. You can also take vitamin C, riboflavin and vitamin A tablets, which are all good starting points to maintaining 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 aid in the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, are extremely dangerous to your vision. When you go outside, and not just during the summer, make sure to put on complete UV blocking sunglasses as well as a wide brimmed hat to protect your eyes from the sun.

Hormonal shifts such as those that occur during pregnancy or menopause, can also influence your vision. Often, these changes can even make contacts less effective or uncomfortable to wear. If you're pregnant, you may want to decrease contact lens wearing time and alter your prescription if necessary. It's recommended to schedule an appointment with your optometrist during your pregnancy to discuss any eyesight or vision shifts you may be experiencing.

There are also precautions to take to shield your eyes from risks at home, such as domestic cleaners. Be sure that domestic chemicals, including cleaning agents, paints and strong detergents are stored safely and are out of reach of young children. Scrub your hands well after working with all chemicals and wear eye protection if employing the use of strong substances. Wear proper safety goggles when repairing things around the house, especially when working with wood, metal or power tools.

Women need to be informed of the risks and choices when it comes to looking after your vision. And of course, it can never hurt to inform the women you know, like your daughters and friends, about how to look after their eye and vision health.