We have all heard that exercise, eating a nutritious diet and not smoking are ways to prevent conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol and heart disease. If you are a woman, you have another reason to dedicate yourself to good health. These three lifestyle choices could lower your risk of visual impairment.
According to Prevent Blindness, females comprise the majority of the 4.4 million Americans over the age of 40 who are visually impaired or blind. Studies show that women are more at risk than men for eye diseases like cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma, and there may be a few reasons for this:
Pregnancy and Eye Changes
Pregnancy can cause conditions like dry eyes, puffy eyelids, blurred vision, or double vision. It is also common for pregnant women to develop migraine headaches and high blood pressure, which can lead to vision problems. Another condition that is typical during pregnancy is gestational diabetes. Although gestational diabetes usually is temporary, it increases the risk of developing type II diabetes later in life, which can later cause diabetic retinopathy.
Being pregnant can also mean that medication that was prescribed before the pregnancy is no longer safe. Prevent Blindness warns that some glaucoma medications may harm an unborn child, so all expectant mothers should consult their doctor before continuing to take their medication.
Hormones and Eye Changes
Hormonal changes are responsible for many eye conditions in women, and dry eye is a good example. After menopause, the risk of dry eye increases significantly. The American Journal of Medicine published a study that found the incidence of dry eyes was 17.9 percent among aging women compared to 10.5 percent of aging men (Source: All About Vision).
Everyone is at risk for vision loss, but women should be especially vigilant because of the many changes that their bodies undergo during pregnancy and menopause. Ladies, now is the time to establish good lifestyle habits like getting regular exercise, eating a high-fiber and low-fat diet, and avoiding smoking. Also, make sure that you are up-to-date on your comprehensive eye exams. Regular eye exams with dilation are the best way to keep your vision clear and your eyes healthy. If you have not had a comprehensive eye exam recently, it is time to call your ophthalmologist. An eye exam only takes about an hour, but it is one step toward a lifetime of good vision (Source: US News and World Report Health).