Look deep into women's eyes in April

April 4, 2012

Prevent Blindness America (PBA) has designated April as Women's Eye Health and Safety Month.

Chicago-Prevent Blindness America (PBA) has designated April as Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month.

Women are more susceptible to vision issues due to longevity as well as hormonal factors, according to the National Eye Institute (NEI). Every year, more women than men receive diagnoses of eye diseases or conditions such as cataracts, dry eye, Fuchs’ dystrophy, glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and Sjögren’s syndrome. A study from PBA and NEI titled “Vision Problems in the U.S.” found that of the more than 3.6 million Americans aged at least 40 years who suffer from visual impairment, including blindness, 2.3 million are women.

“Of course, both men and women need to take the necessary steps today to keep their eyes healthy in the future,” said Ruth D. Williams, MD, president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Because women have more risk of vision loss than do men, and because women have different risks from men, we want to be sure they pay heightened attention to saving their sight.”

PBA provides these tips for women to keep their eyes healthy:

Get an eye exam. All women should make regular eye exams part of their health routines. PBA recommends everyone receive a comprehensive eye exam by age 40, if not earlier, and follow-up care as recommended by an eye-care professional.

Know your family history. Genetics plays a key role in eye disease. Recommend that your patients research their families’ health histories and notify you of any eye diseases that run in their families.

Eat healthfully. A diet rich in beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids also can help guard against vision loss from eye disease.

Take supplements. Antioxidants have been shown to reduce the progression of some eye illnesses, including age-related macular degeneration. Vitamin A, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin C, and zinc are good sources to help maintain eye health.

Quit smoking. Smoking, even second-hand smoke, increases the risk of eye disease.

Wear ultraviolet (UV) ray eye protection. When venturing outdoors, PBA recommends wearing brimmed hats in conjunction with UV-rated sunglasses.

For more information on women’s eye health, including fact sheets on eye diseases, pregnancy and vision, and the safe use of cosmetics, visit www.preventblindness.org.

For more articles in this issue of Ophthalmology Times eReport, click here.