By Maggie Bak, OD
Up at dawn, drive the kids to camp, eat whatever’s left on their plates for dinner, fall into bed after doing three loads of laundry…
Work all day at a demanding job, fix dinner for your aging parents, spend the weekend doing yard work…
Does one (or both) of these scenarios describe your routine as a busy mom and/or working woman?
I am a working woman and a licensed optometrist, so I know how easy it is for women to neglect their health. Every day I see women who don’t take care of their eyes as they should. So it’s not surprising that a study by Prevent Blindness America found that more women than men have age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, the four leading eye diseases in the U.S. In fact, of the 4.1 million Americans age 40 and older who are visually impaired or blind, 2.6 million are women. That’s why April has been designated as Women’s Eye Health and Safety month.
I strongly believe that taking care of yourself should be your first priority – you can’t do your best for others if you’re not feeling well yourself. So I suggest that creating a few good habits can really go a long way to help you care for your own eyes and the eye health of your loved ones.
- Visit your optometrist at least once a year for an eye exam . Be sure to ask for a comprehensive eye exam that involves the doctor dilating and looking inside your eyes. Share special needs with your eye doctor, such as working on a computer or spending time outdoors.
- Make the annual eye exam a family affair. Save time and schedule appointments for everyone. A comprehensive eye exam is especially important for children to help them see and learn.
- What you eat can affect your eyes. Some studies show that a diet high in antioxidants (think oranges, whole grains and dark green leafy vegetables) helps lower your risk of developing cataracts as you age. Vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes and kale may help you avoid a deficiency that causes vision loss or night blindness. Salmon, tuna, eggs, nuts and beans may help guard against age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Quit smoking. Smoking can lead to cataracts, optic nerve damage and macular degeneration.
- Wearing sunglasses can that block 99 to 100 percent of harmful UV rays! Polarized lenses are even better in helping you see more clearly outdoors. Don’t forget sun protection for the whole family. Your children are especially vulnerable.
Of course, you want to feel your best, see your best and take care of your loved ones – and that starts with making time to care of YOU! Today is a great day to start.
Dr. Maggie Bak is employed by LensCrafters in the Chicago area and is a licensed optometrist in the state of Illinois. She is a graduate of the Illinois College of Optometry.