INDIANAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Women make up 53 percent of the world’s population; however, two-thirds of people who are affected by vision loss and other visual impairments worldwide are women1.
“April, which is Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month, is the perfect time to form new habits that can help women decrease or prevent vision problems in the future,” said Dr. Richard Hom, National Optometric director for Anthem, Inc.
Researchers at the National Eye Institutes-National Institutes of Health suggest this is probably because women generally live longer than men, which make them more susceptible to age-related eye diseases, and they have hormonal fluctuations throughout their lives that can negatively impact their eyes. However, there are a number of things women can do to help stop this trend.
Dr. Hom suggests the following tips:
- Get An Annual Eye Exam. A number of vision problems are preventable and treatable. Getting regular eye exams, especially a dilated eye exam, should be a regular part of a woman’s health routine. A vision exam is often the entry point into the overall health system. For instance, an eye doctor may be able to see if a woman is developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or other chronic conditions before their primary care provider, especially if they are overdue for their annual physical. This is because the eye doctor has an unobstructed view of the eyes’ blood vessels and the retina during a comprehensive eye exam, so they can see early signs of these chronic conditions2. It is recommended that women get a comprehensive eye exam by the age of 40 (if not sooner) as well as get routine follow-up care as needed3.
- Wear Good Sunglasses. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light has been linked to the development of cataracts and macular degeneration. According to the Mayo Clinic, UV radiation from the sun can damage the skin of the eyelids, as well as the cornea, lens and other parts of the eye. Women should make it a habit to wear UV-rated sunglasses, and to also consider wearing brimmed hats to protect their eyes.
- Be Safe When Wearing Cosmetics and Contacts. Women should remember to always wash their hands before wearing contacts, and to throw away old contacts and makeup. They should also avoid sharing makeup. Doing so can prevent a serious eye infection that could result in permanent loss of vision.
- Know Your Family History. Most people know that genetics can play a big role in the diseases they are at risk for, including eye diseases. When a woman knows the diseases and conditions that are in her family tree she should share this information with her eye doctor. In many cases the eye doctor may be able to recommend things she can do to prevent or decrease the impact those conditions or diseases have on the health of her eyes.
- Stop Smoking. Smokers significantly increase their risk of developing cataracts4. And women who are 80 years old and smoke are 5.5 times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (a condition that causes blind spots and severely impairs central vision)5.
- Eat A Healthy Diet And Exercise. Obesity, lack of exercise, stress and an unhealthy diet can negatively impact the eyes. Women should try to eat a diet that is rich in vitamin A (e.g., carrots, sweet potatoes and leafy greens), vitamin C (e.g., oranges, strawberries, broccoli and chili peppers), vitamin E (e.g., almonds, peanuts, pine nuts), beta carotene (e.g., carrots, sweet potatoes, kale and butternut squash), lutein (e.g., green leafy and other green and yellow vegetables), copper, (e.g., sesame seeds and dried herbs), zinc (e.g., oysters and dark chocolate) and omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., salmon, sardines, canned white tuna and cod liver oil)6. Women should also drink plenty of water throughout the day and be mindful of the amount of sodium and caffeine in their diet.
1) National Eye Institute, National /Institutes of Health.
3) The Discovery Eye Foundation.
6) National Agriculture Library, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
About Anthem, Inc.
Anthem is working to transform health care with trusted and caring solutions. Our health plan companies deliver quality products and services that give their members access to the care they need. With more than 68 million people served by its affiliated companies, including more than 37 million enrolled in its family of health plans, Anthem is one of the nation’s leading health benefits companies. For more information about Anthem’s family of companies, please visit www.antheminc.com/companies.