Did you know that women are more likely than men to experience visual impairments and eye-related health problems? According to the National Eye Institute, 2.7 million women age 40 and older are visually impaired, and women are at an increased risk of developing senior health issues such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts. April is Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month, making it the perfect opportunity to learn about a few steps women can take to detect age-related eye diseases early and protect their eye health as they age.
Receive an annual eye exam
Detecting eye problems early on is often the key to preventing eye problems from escalating into serious health issues. Scheduling a comprehensive dilated eye exam each year will help you monitor and maintain your vision. Routine vision exams can help your doctor detect any eye problems as well as other health conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
Use protective eyewear and sunglasses
Extended exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can have dangerous effects on your eye health. Eye conditions such as cataracts (a clouding of the eye’s lens that makes vision blurry) and macular degeneration (retina damage that can lead to blindness) may each be caused by too much UV exposure. Look for sunglasses that are not only stylish, but also block 99 to 100% of UVA and UVB radiation. You can also pair your sunglasses with a hat to protect your eyes and skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
Prevent dry eye syndrome
About 6 million women in America are affected by dry eye syndrome, which is caused by the eye’s inability to produce enough tears. Symptoms of dry eye include burning, itchy eyes, with more severe cases leading to corneal scarring or ulcers. The risk of dry eye also increases with age. Prevent dry eye by using a humidifier to retain moisture in the air, and avoid using irritating soaps or makeup around your eyes. Talk to your doctor if you begin to experience the symptoms of dry eye.
Eat a healthy diet
Eating a healthy, nutritious diet is another way to promote eye health, since some eye problems can be caused by high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Try to incorporate foods with vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. Some foods with these nutrients include fish, dark leafy greens, broccoli, berries, and almonds, to name a few.
Staying active is not only good for your overall health, but it may also play an important role in preserving vision as you get older. Several studies have found that regular exercise may protect our eyes from developing age-related conditions. Exercise can also help prevent and control other health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes, which can each affect eye health.
Eye health is an important senior health issue, especially for women. Continue following a healthy lifestyle and schedule annual visits with your eye doctor to protect your vision now and in the future!