NEW YORK – It is easy to take vision for granted. However, it’s important for everyone to pay attention to their eye health. During April, Lighthouse Guild, the leading organization for vision and health, is sharing valuable information about women’s eye health and safety.
Dr. Susan Weinstein, low vision optometrist, at Lighthouse Guild, says, “The most important step every woman can take to protect her eye health is to get regular, comprehensive, dilated eye exams. If you notice any sudden changes in your vision, you should seek care immediately.”
Dr. Weinstein offers some pointers to help women take care of their eyes:
• Eye Disease Is More Common in Women. Studies have shown that women are at increased risk for glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration. These disorders can lead to vision loss if left unchecked. The good news is they may be effectively treated if detected early.
• Pregnancy. Physiological changes during pregnancy can impact vision leading to a change in prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses. These changes are usually temporary and return to normal after pregnancy. Women with pre-existing diabetes need to monitor their vision closely as they are at risk for diabetes-related vision problems. Pre-eclampsia, the development of high blood pressure during pregnancy, can affect vision as well. Pregnant women who have glaucoma and are taking medication to control it, need to discuss these medications with their doctors, as some may potentially be harmful to the developing baby.
Bottom line: Women need to make taking care of their eyes part of their pregnancy health routine.
• Menopause. With aging, vision change is common. For women, the fluctuations in hormones during and after menopause can cause dry eye. Common eyes diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration all increase with age. Some of these eye diseases cause no pain and often have no early symptoms, so regular eye checkups are important.
• Dry Eye. Medications, hormonal changes, and aging can lead to dry eye. Artificial tears, purchased over-the-counter, or prescription eye drops may be recommended. Antihistamine drops used for allergy relief should not be used to address dry eye. In some cases, a small device known as a punctal plug is inserted into the tear duct of the eye to prevent drainage of the tears. Your eye doctor will recommend the appropriate treatment.
• Let Eyes Breathe. After a busy day or a night out, resist the temptation to go to sleep wearing contact lenses. Sleeping in contact lenses is never a good idea. Daily disposable contact lenses need to be thrown out every day. Other types of disposable contact lenses should be cleaned every night. Try to remove contact lenses a few hours before bedtime to give eyes a break. People can develop allergic reactions to contact lens material or cleaning solutions. If a reaction develops, see an eyecare professional.
• Wear Protective Eye Gear. Help safeguard your eyes from dirt, debris, and trauma by wearing eye protection when playing sports, making repairs or engaging in work that could lead to eye injury.
• Get UV-protected sunglasses. Tinted glasses will not necessarily protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays. It is essential to get proper quality eyewear that provides both UVA and UVB coverage to protect your eyes.
• Watch the Mascara Wand. Avoid applying makeup, such as eyeliner, foundation or cover-up, so close to the eyes that it gets into your eye. Such contact with makeup can cause blurry vision and lead to irritation. Avoid applying mascara while driving or in moving vehicles – the mascara wand could hit the eye, damaging the cornea and impacting vision years later.
• Makeup Allergies. If eyes become irritated, it could be due to certain preservatives or other substances in makeup products. Stop using the product that appears to be causing the irritation and try a different formula. Again, if a reaction develops, see an eyecare professional.
Lighthouse Guild is the leading organization dedicated to addressing and preventing vision loss. For more information, visit Lighthouseguild.org.
Women’s Eye Health Tips from Lighthouse Guild
April Is Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month