Prevent Blindness America (PBA) has declared April Women’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month. Worldwide, women are significantly more likely than men to be affected by eye disease. In fact, according to the National Eye Institute, two-thirds of the global population of blind and visually impaired individuals are women. Nearly 80 percent of these impairments are either preventable or treatable (“Women’s Eye Health,” 2015).
For women seeking to improve their eye health, here are five simple tips:
1) Visit your eye doctor regularly
Because women, on average, live longer than men, they are more likely to be affected by age-related eye conditions. This can include everything from macular degeneration to cataracts, glaucoma, uncorrected refractive errors, and general dry eye disease.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the best preventative measure against eye disease is obtaining a comprehensive examination with pupil dilation from an eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist). The frequency with which you should have a comprehensive eye exam depends on your age, family history, and other risk factors. If you have a family history of vision problems, eye disease, or blindness, be sure to communicate this to your doctor. Patients with diabetes should be examined yearly for signs of diabetic retinopathy, and those with high blood pressure or autoimmune conditions may also need to visit the eye doctor more frequently (“A Lifetime of Good Health”).
2) Be aware of hormonal vision changes
Women experiencing hormonal changes are more likely to be affected by dry eye disease, including women who are pregnant, women who have gone through menopause, or those who are utilizing hormonal birth control (“Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month – April,” 2014). Increases in certain hormones may cause changes in vision; if you notice such changes, be sure to discuss them with your eye care professional (Kwong 2016).
3) Avoid digital eye strain
Prolonged use of computers and other digital devices can easily strain your eyes. A simple way to avoid eye strain is to follow the 20/20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away. Ensuring that your monitor is bright and set to a higher resolution also makes it easier for your eyes to focus on the screen. Finally, don’t forget to blink!
4) Protect your eyes
An estimated 90 percent of eye injuries due to trauma are preventable, yet 2.4 million people suffer from eye injuries each year (“Scope of the Eye Injury” 2010).
When performing routine household tasks, including cleaning, mowing the lawn, or operating power tools, be sure to wear protective eyeglasses or goggles. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling all chemicals to avoid accidentally transferring them to your eye.
With summer around the corner, be mindful of the effects of sun exposure. Wear sunglasses with 99 to 100 percent UVA and UVB protection to prevent ultraviolet rays from reaching your eyes.
Read more about how to protect your eyes from UV rays.
5) Maintain good overall health
Many of the risk factors for loss of vision and vision impairment are the same as those for other chronic diseases. These include smoking, being overweight, and overexposure to sunlight.
The recommendations are simple: if you smoke, quit; exercise regularly; and eat plenty of fruit, dark green vegetables, and fatty fish. This contributes not only to good eye health, but to your overall well-being.
- “Women’s Eye Health.” National Eye Institute. November 2015.
- “A Lifetime of Good Health.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health.
- “Womens Eye Health and Safety Month – April.” Friends for Sight. 2014.
- Kwong, Anthony, O.D. “Eye health and oral contraceptives: a woman’s risks.” Healthy Living Made Simple. 2016.
- “The Scope of the Eye Injury Problem.” Prevent Blindness America. 2010.