Women's Eye Health 101

Women’s Eye Health 101

April is Women’s Eye Safety and Health Month.

The facts are hard to read: Women are at a higher risk for eye diseases and visual impairments and experience blindness or permanent loss of vision more than men. Why? Research suggests that there may be hormonal differences that make women more likely to get eye diseases.

Also, women in the US tend to live longer than menso over time they get more serious eye disease, especially age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma.

April is Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month, so it’s the perfect time to learn about eye protection. Here’s everything you need to know to keep your eyes in top shape.

What increases the risk of eye diseases?

According to National Eye InstituteYour chances of developing eye disease increase if you have a family history of eye disease, have certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity, and are Black, Hispanic, or Native American.

What does myopic mean?

Myopia is the official term for being nearsighted. This is when foreground objects look sharp but distant objects are blurry. “This happens when the shape of the eye is irregular, too curved or longer than normal, which prevents light from bending properly as it enters the eye. The light is pointed in front of your retina instead of your retina, causing blurry vision,” she said Usadonna Abugo, MD., American Academy of Ophthalmology spokesperson and ophthalmologist.

Eyeglasses and contact lenses are the most common ways to correct nearsightedness. Other possible treatments include surgery, for example LASIK.

What does forward-looking mean?

Farsightedness is technically called presbyopia, and it’s when you can’t clearly see things that are close by. “This happens when the eye’s lens – which helps the eye focus on objects – becomes stiffer, a common occurrence as we age. That’s why you might start to notice that you need to keep reading materials further away, starting around age 40,” Abugo said.

The corrective options for farsightedness are the same as for myopia: reading glasses, contact lenses, or surgery.

What is astigmatism?

Astigmatism it happens when the cornea or lens of the eye is deformed. Symptoms include blurred vision, trouble seeing at night, squinting, and headaches.

Eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery can fix the problem.

What types of eye doctors are there?

There are two types of eye doctors, and the type you see depends on your needs. Ophthalmologists perform medical and surgical treatments for eye conditions. Optometrists examine, diagnose, and treat patients’ eyes. “Ophthalmologists differ from optometrists in their levels of training and what they can diagnose and treat,” Abugo said. “Both ophthalmologists and optometrists can prescribe and fit you glasses or contact lenses to correct vision problems. Being doctors, ophthalmologists are also specially trained to diagnose and treat eye diseases and perform eye surgeries.

Opticians are technicians who fit glasses, contact lenses, and other vision-correcting devices.

How often do you need to see the eye doctor?

“A common misconception is that you only need to check your eyes if you notice a change in your vision,” Abugo said. “That’s not true. Many blinding eye diseases begin without any obvious symptoms.

For adults without risk factors, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a comprehensive eye exam at age 40. Mayo Clinic also recommends getting an eye exam every year or two if you are 60 or older, and getting checked frequently if you wear glasses or contact lenses, have a family history of eye disease, have a chronic disease that put yourself at risk or if you take medications that can cause side effects affecting your vision.

What are other ways to protect your eyesight?

“Preventive care for a lifetime of healthy eyes includes a healthy diet rich in leafy green vegetables and vitamin-rich foods (the The Mediterranean diet is recommended),” Abugo said. “Also, exercise regularly, don’t smoke, wear 100 percent UV blocking sunglasses whenever you’re outdoors, and know your family history to discuss with your doctor.”

You also want to make sure you stay on top of any health conditions that put your vision at risk, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Also, pay attention to the following symptoms which could indicate an eye disease and means you should see a doctor right away:

  • Reduced vision
  • A curtain or veil that covers your view
  • Difficulty seeing to one side
  • Sudden flashes in your vision with “cobwebs” (flying flies)
  • Double vision

Bottom line: Pay attention to changes in your vision and notify your doctor right away if you notice anything unusual. Early diagnosis can help save your eyesight.

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