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What All Women Should Know About Health and 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 older women. In fact, studies show that large numbers of women over the age of 40 have some type of eyesight impairment, and may be in danger of developing conditions including but not limited to cataracts, dry eyes, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. It's worth noting that the chance of women developing vision loss has grown as a result of the female population's growing longevity.

As a woman, the first step to take to guarantee healthy vision is to schedule a routine eye exam. Be sure that you get a comprehensive eye test before reaching the age of forty, and that you adhere to the care your eye care professional suggests. Also, be familiar with your family history, as your genes are an important detail of understanding, diagnosing and stopping eye conditions. Be sure to look into your family's medical history and inform your doctor of any conditions that show up.

In addition, maintain a healthy, varied diet and be sure to include foods rich in beta carotene, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, which all help protect against eyesight loss from eye disease. It's recommended that you also take vitamin A, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C tablets, as they are all great starting points to keeping up optimal eye health.

For women who smoke, make a commitment to stop, because even second-hand smoke can add to the danger of eye disease and is a common factor in the macular degeneration that can come with aging (AMD), as well as cataracts. UV rays, which can also be a party to the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, are very harmful to your eyesight. When you go outside, and during the summer AND winter, be sure to wear 100% UV protective sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat to protect your eyes from harsh rays.

Hormonal shifts such as those that take place during pregnancy or menopause, can also affect your sight. Often, these shifts can even make the use of contacts ineffective or slightly painful. If you're pregnant, you may want to shorten lens wearing time and adjust your prescription as needed. It's recommended to book an appointment with your eye care professional during your pregnancy to address any eyesight or vision shifts you may be experiencing.

There are also several precautions to take to shield your eyes from household dangers, such as domestic cleaners. Be sure that household chemicals, including cleaning agents, bleach and strong detergents are kept safely and are out of reach of small children. Wash your hands thoroughly after touching all chemicals and wear eye protection when employing the use of strong substances. Wear safety goggles when fixing things around the house, especially when working with wood, metal or tools.

When used incorrectly, cosmetics can also be a safety risk for your eyes. Particularly when it comes to eye makeup, you should never use anyone else's cosmetics. Avoid using old eye makeup and dispose of anything that's been open for more than about four months, particularly products that are liquid based. Look out for allergic reactions and stop use right away if you spot redness, itchiness or puffiness in or around the eyes. Be aware also that you might actually develop allergies to a product you've been fine with for years. Also, be sure to avoid touching the eye when putting on eyeliners, shadows and mascara.

Women need to be informed of the dangers and considerations when it comes to caring for your eyes. And also, it can never hurt to inform the other women in your life, such as daughters and friends, on the best ways to look after their eye and vision health.