According to the World Health Organisation almost two thirds of blind people worldwide are women and girls. Women are also prone to develop dry eye problems more than men. There are several ways to keep the eyes healthy to prevent serious eye problems from developing.
An important thing to know is family history of any eye diseases. It is helpful to know which eye problems run in the family and whether these are hereditary. This will give a clear idea if one is at higher risk of developing a certain eye condition. Certain steps can then be taken to prevent its occurrence or minimise the complications that may be associated with it.
Eating right can help protect eyesight. Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, peas, and broccoli are rich in lutein, an antioxidant that protects cells against damage. Lutein was found to be concentrated in the macula, a part of the retina of the eye responsible for central vision. Age related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness. Lutein acts as a natural eye shade that may protect the retina against sun damage.
Research has also shown that eating fish high in omega 3 fatty acids can be beneficial to the eyes. Several studies suggest that omega 3 fatty acids may help protect the eyes from dry eye syndrome. Dry eye is a common complaint among middle aged women and this can cause severe eye irritation because of insufficient tear production. Dry eye in itself does not lead to blindness but it can increase the risk for eye infection. Fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, and halibut. The retina has one of the highest concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids in the body and by simply increasing the dietary intake of omega 3, there is almost 50% decrease in the severity of retinopathy or damage to the retina.
Image courtesy of Pinterest.com
Antioxidants such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E can likewise help reduce the progression of age related macular degeneration. These antioxidants play a significant role in maintaining healthy cell membranes and other cell processes. A deficiency in Vitamin E has also been pointed to as one of the causes of dry eye syndrome, a condition that can lead to scarring of the cornea and vision loss.
Lifestyle can also contribute to eye problems in women. Generally, more women than men wear contact lenses because of aesthetic reasons. Many women prefer contacts over eyeglasses because glasses are not considered fashionable and can make one look old. When there is poor eye hygiene or extended wear of contact lenses, the eyes can become infected. The cornea is at risk of scarring and this can lead to blindness. Therefore, proper lens care as well as good hygiene is necessary to prevent eye problems.
When eye cosmetics are not properly removed, makeup and dirt can become trapped at the base of the eyelashes. This is another cause of eye infection among women. Proper application and complete removal of eye makeup at the end of the day can help prevent the eye infections and eye damage.
When going outdoors, one must wear protective sunglasses. Constant and excessive exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun can damage the eyes. Common eye diseases like macular degeneration have been linked to too much sun exposure. Choose sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation. Women and girls who are active in sports should also consider wearing protective eyewear, which can be easily bought at sporting goods stores. To protect the eyes, those who spend a lot of time in front of the computer should rest the eyes regularly.
Women are prone to become overweight, especially with advancing age. This increases the risk for developing diseases such as diabetes. High blood sugar causes the lens of the eye to swell, impairing normal vision. Diabetes also increases the risk of developing other eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Maintain a healthy weight and have regular blood tests if diabetes runs in the family.
Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and optic nerve damage. Girls should never start smoking and women who smoke should quit right away to decrease the risk of developing these eye conditions.
Although modern techniques are now available to correct eye problems such as total vision correction, intraocular lens replacement prevention is still advocated. Practicing good eye care habits along with a comprehensive eye examination at least once a year is the only way to ensure having healthy eyes.