Ahead of April’s Women’s Eye Health & Safety Month Essilor.co.uk has compiled FIVE SIMPLE STEPS FOR FEMALES to achieve better eye health.
From pregnancy to the menopause – women’s bodies can have more of a detrimental effect on eye health than their male counterparts, and new research claims that up to half of sight loss is avoidable by looking after your eyes effectively.
Women’s Eye Health & Safety Month is designed to educate women about the steps they can take to help to prevent vision loss. As part of their aim to promote positive change for better eye health, Dr Andy Hepworth, from Essilor.co.uk, which supplies opticians throughout the UK and Ireland with the latest innovations in corrective lenses and advice, highlights five simple steps women can take to keep eyes healthier, whatever their age.
PROTECT EYES FROM UV RAYS
Light is fundamental for your vision, it helps you your overall well-being, regulation of the sleep/wake cycles, mood, and cognitive performances, but light can also be the cause of premature eye ageing.
Whether you’re holidaying on the slopes or just out and about, UV rays are dangerous to your eyes just as they are to your skin. UV exposure over a lifetime, accelerates eye ageing which includes cataracts. Harmful Blue-Violet light is one of the factors recently identified which, over time can cause damage to retinal cells.
Lens coatings have been developed to provide UV protection for your eyes and are widely available. Glasses or sun glasses with an embedded filtration system offers front and back protection from harmful UV and Blue-Violet light. This type of filtration system will partially filter Blue-Violet light and absorb UV light, before it reaches your eyes. When out and about in the sun, ensure you’re wearing sun protective lenses. Sun protective lenses will again help to protect your eyes from harmful UV light.
You can also use Transitions technology, which is light intelligent. If combined with your spectacle prescription your lenses will automatically adapt to changing light conditions and help protect against harmful UV and Blue-Violet light both indoors and outdoors.
DON’T LET HORMONES CAUSE HAVOC
Women often experience changes in their vision during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause as a result of hormones. Even the menstrual cycle can have an effect. Oestrogen is thought to be the biggest culprit, and most of the hormonally charged changes in vision occur during milestone stages of a woman's life.
When a young girl enters puberty, the sudden increase in oestrogen in her body may lead to an increase in short sightedness (myopia).
During pregnancy a woman's body will have a constant surge of both oestrogen and progesterone, which can also cause blurry vision or trouble focusing. Changes in vision related to pregnancy are usually temporary and reverse themselves a few weeks after delivery.
When a woman's oestrogen and progesterone levels greatly decrease, as is common with menopause, vision is usually less 'shortsighted' than before menopause. Menopausal women can also have high build up of intraocular pressure, which is linked to glaucoma. High eye pressure can lead to optic nerve damage, which causes vision loss and, eventually, blindness.
You can protect your eyes with early detection and treatment intervention, so regular visits to an optician are essential when experiencing any hormonal changes.
MAINTAIN A DIET RICH IN OMEGA-3 AND LUTEIN TO SUPPORT YOUR EYE HEALTH
It's not just carrots that are good for your eye health and eyesight. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale, can support your eye health. Your eyes also benefit from omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, seaweed and certain seeds.
Weight can also affect eye health. Obesity in particular can increase your risk of developing diabetes, which can lead to vision loss due to diabetic eye disease.
REDUCE EYE STRAIN WITH CORRECTIVE LENSES AND EYE EXCERCISES
If you need lenses to correct a refractive error, such as myopia - short-sightedness (a very common vision condition in which you can see objects near to you clearly, but objects farther away are blurry) or hypermetropia – long sightedness (again a common eye condition where nearby objects appear blurred, but your vision is clearer when looking at things further away), it’s important that you wear them. This can enhance your visual comfort and acuity, which in turn will mean you aren’t straining your eyes or over-working them.
You can also reduce your risks of eyestrain by following the 20-20-20 rule. If you regularly work on a computer, take a break every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
MAINTAIN REGULAR EYE CHECKS AT AN OPTICIANS
Maintaining regular eye examinations is vital in spotting any problems early. Eyes should be tested at least every two years as routine and many eye problems will be detected this way – the earlier problems are identified, the easier they will be to rectify. Eye examinations are also the best way to check your prescription lenses are doing their job properly as well as to check general eye health.
Also, find out your family’s eye health history to know if anyone in your family has ever been diagnosed with an eye disease or condition as developing an eye condition can partly be due to genetics and in turn can be hereditary. By knowing this information you can inform your optician, who will be able to determine if you are at higher risk and can take the correct measures.
Dr Andy Hepworth adds:
“Our eyes are having to work extremely hard and they aren’t getting the TLC they deserve. Health and wellbeing extends to our eyes as well as our minds and bodies - we need to do more to protect our sight from external aggressors and also recognise the importance of regular eye tests, especially when hormonal imbalance is present.
“Recent figures released by the IAPB (International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness) have revealed that eye-related health issues in the UK are set to reach epidemic proportions within just 30 years, yet as many as 50% of cases related to vision impairment could be avoided with better eye care.
“Essilor is working to increase awareness of the importance of maintaining good eye health in a bid to reduce the impact of eye disease in the future.”
"Health and wellbeing extends to our eyes as well as our minds and bodies - we need to do more to protect our sight from external aggressors and also recognise the importance of regular eye tests."
Dr Andy Hepworth