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What All Women Should Know About Healthy Vision

April is Women's Eye Health and Safety Month.

It's no surprise that the various stages of a woman's life often have a strong impact on her eye health and vision. Eye disease among the female population is being diagnosed in increasing numbers, more notably in aging women. In fact, studies show that most women going through middle age exhibit some degree of visual impairment, and are at risk 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 become more common because of the female population's increasing lifespan.

For women, an initial step to take to maintain good sight is to schedule a routine eye exam. Be sure that you get a full eye test before reaching the age of forty, and that you adhere to the care your eye care professional encourages. Also, know your family history, because your genetics are an important detail of understanding, diagnosing and stopping eye conditions. Be sure to look into your family's eye and health history and inform your doctor of any conditions that show up.

In addition, maintain a healthy, varied diet and don't forget to include foods containing beta carotene, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, all which help guard from eyesight loss as a result of eye disease. If possible, you should also take vitamin A, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C supplements, as they are all great starting points to managing top-notch eye care.

If you smoke, make a commitment to stop, as even second-hand smoke can increase the risk of eye disease and is a common cause of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. Ultraviolet rays, which can also aid in the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, are very harmful for your vision. When you go outside, and during the summer AND winter, make sure to wear complete UV blocking sunglasses and a sun hat that will shield your eyes from harsh rays.

Hormonal changes such as what might take place due to pregnancy or menopause, can also slightly change your vision. Often, these shifts can even make the use of contact lenses ineffective or uncomfortable. If you're pregnant, you might want to decrease contact lens wearing time and update your prescription as needed. It's worthwhile to make an appointment with your eye doctor during your pregnancy to discuss any eyesight or vision differences you may be noticing.

There are also precautions to take to protect your eyes from dangers at home, like domestic cleaners. Be sure that domestic chemicals, including cleaners, paints and fertilizers are kept safely and properly, and are locked away from young children. Clean your hands properly after working with all chemicals and wear eye protection if using toxic substances. Use safety goggles when fixing things at home, especially when working with potentially dangerous objects or power tools.

When used irresponsibly, cosmetics can also be a safety hazard for your eyes. Firstly, you should never use anyone else's products. Avoid using old eye shadow, mascara or eyeliner and discard anything that's been open for more than about four months, particularly products that are liquid based. Look out for allergic reactions and cease use right away if you spot pain, itchiness or redness in or near the eyes. Be aware also that you might actually develop allergies to products you've been using for years. And as a general rule, be sure to avoid touching the eye when using eyeliners, shadows and mascara.

As a woman, it is important to be aware of the risks and options when it comes to your eye care. And also, it can never hurt to educate the women in your life, like your daughters and friends, about how to protect their eye health.