April is Women's Eye Health and Safety Month

By Tri-Service Vision Conservation and Readiness Program Staff, U.S. Army Public Health CommandApril 3, 2015

Eye exam
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Women are often the people in the family responsible for taking care of their family's health concerns and often neglect their own health including the health of their eyes. Yet, did you know that two thirds of the people in the world affected by visual impairments and blindness are women even though they represent only 53 percent of the population?

The rate of eye disease is on the rise in this country mostly because people are living longer and women, on average, live longer than men. As a result, more women are susceptible to age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts, dry eyes, glaucoma and diabetic changes of the eye as well as other conditions. Because of this, Prevent Blindness America has designated April as Women's Eye Health and Safety Month to help educate women about the steps that they must take to help prevent vision loss by making their own eye health a priority. While the following recommendations apply to all, during April, the emphasis is on women so that they remember to take care of themselves as well as their families.

Get routine eye care. Many causes of eyesight problems are preventable so all women should make having regular eye examinations a regular part of their health routine to minimize the risk. It is recommended that all women receive a comprehensive eye examination by the age of 40 if not sooner and obtain routine follow-up care as recommended by their eye care professional.

Know your family history. Everyone is aware that genetics play an important role in what diseases you are at risk for including eye diseases. By knowing what conditions your ancestors have had, you can notify your eye care professional of what those conditions are and, in some cases, do things to prevent or lessen the effect of those conditions in you.

Eat healthy and exercise. Eating healthy and exercising is important in maintaining a proper weight to reduce the risk factors for certain conditions. Doing so can also assist you in guarding against vision loss. Obesity, a lack of exercise, stress and a bad diet all can affect the health of your eyes.

Avoid smoke. Smoking, even secondhand smoke, increases the risks for certain eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Avoid smoking and being around smokers if at all possible.

Wear good sunglasses. Ultraviolet light exposure has also been linked to the development of cataracts and macular degeneration. So, it is recommended that when you go outside, consider wearing brimmed hats and UV-rated sunglasses.

Use cosmetics and contacts safely. You know the rules for using these safely. Wash your hands first. Throw away old makeup and contacts. Do not share them with others. Do not apply them while driving. By following these directions, you can prevent a serious eye infection that could result in permanent loss of vision.

Remember, as the one who is responsible for making certain that everyone is healthy, it is important that you remain around to continue to take care of your family and that you see well enough to maintain that role. Taking care of your eyes is an easy way to assist you in meeting those important functions for years to come.