According to the National Eye Institute, two out of every three people living with blindness or vision problems are women. Prevent Blindness, one of the oldest organizations in the United States dedicated to preventing blindness and preserving sight, declared April Women’s Eye Health and Safety month to educate the public on the increased risk for women for vision health issues, and steps women can take to prevent vision loss.
There are several factors that can make women more likely to develop vision problems. Women on average tend to live longer than men, so they are at greater risk of developing eye health conditions associated with aging, such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. Women also have health issues associated with fluctuations in hormones due to pregnancy and menopause which can affect their vision, and dry eye syndrome with severe symptoms also affects more than 3.2 million women middle-aged or older in the United States. Women also have a higher prevalence of thyroid eye disease, cataract, autoimmune disorders such as lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome, and refractive errors.
The good news is that there are steps women can take to protect their eye health and vision! Read our top tips for women to maintain healthy eyes and vision.
Don’t smoke. Smoking is bad for your eye health and vision and can lead to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. If you currently smoke, work with your doctor on a plan to quit as this will not only benefit you for your eye health and vision, but also for your overall health.
Know your family’s eye health history. Glaucoma is one example of a hereditary eye disease which can lead to blindness if not treated, and there are many more eye diseases which are hereditary. Ask your family members if there’s a history of cataracts, macular degeneration, or glaucoma in the family, as this can put you at higher risk of developing these conditions and be sure to share that information with your optometrist when you come in for a comprehensive eye exam.
Wear quality sunglasses. Beyond having more comfortable vision when you’re driving or engaging in outdoor activities, quality sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun’s UV rays. Exposure to UV rays over time can lead to serious eye issues such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. According to the American Optometric Association, sunglasses should block out 99 to 100% of both UV-A and UV-B rays. If you wear eyeglasses, then you would benefit from wearing a pair of quality prescription sunglasses, but even if you don’t rely on eyeglasses or contact lenses to see well, you still need to wear quality sunglasses whenever you’re driving or engaging in outdoor activities.
Eat an eye-healthy diet. Incorporate dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, and nuts into your diet, as these foods can boost eye health, and omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and tuna, which may help reduce inflammation and enhance tear production.
Be careful with makeup. If you wear makeup, make sure you remove it every night before you go to bed, as sleeping in makeup can cause eye irritation and infections. Throw away eye makeup after three months, and if you develop an infection such as pink eye, dispose of your makeup right away and don’t use any makeup until the infection is gone. Don’t share makeup with others.
Wear contact lenses as prescribed by your doctor. If you wear contact lenses, it’s important to wear them as prescribed by your doctor and not overuse your contact lenses. Poor hygiene with contact lenses or overwearing contact lenses can lead to corneal scarring.
Wear protective eyewear whenever you’re playing sports, doing yard work, using sharp tools, or using strong chemicals to clean.
Visit us every year for a comprehensive eye exam. Many eye diseases have no symptoms in the early stages, and your best protection is to have a comprehensive eye exam on a regular basis. Early detection of diabetes, high blood pressure, and other medical conditions can happen during comprehensive eye exams and can also catch eye disease and other issues early, preventing them from turning into major problems for your eye health and vision.
Women are often busy taking care of others, but it’s important to take care of your own health, too! If it’s been some time since your last comprehensive eye exam, book an appointment with Ideal Eyecare in Omaha, NE or Council Bluffs, IA, today, and show your eyes some love.