Many women are so busy taking care of their families and everyone around them that they neglect their own health. Celebrated in May, Women’s Health Month is a great reminder that it’s never too late to make positive changes and take control. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, making your own health a priority is especially important.

Three of the most common health risk factors — high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes — can also cause problems with your eyes and vision, including age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal artery occlusion and retinal vein occlusion. In addition, damage to your eyes can occur for years before you even begin to experience any symptoms. Left untreated, it can permanently impact your sight.

Here are a few simple steps women can take to protect their vision and improve their overall health:

  1. Schedule an annual physical with your primary care provider. It is one of the best ways to identify and treat health issues before they get worse.
  2. Get an annual eye exam. This is important even if you aren’t experiencing any vision issues. Early detection of common eye diseases can optimize treatment. Your eye doctor may even spot early signs of other health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or stroke risk so that you can proactively address them.
  3. Stay active. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes each day to reduce stress, lower your blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight. And exercising outside provides the extra benefit of vitamin D which can boost your immune system!
  4. Eat a heart-healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Look for foods rich in vitamin A, vitamin C vitamin E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids.
  5. Wear sunglasses. They help to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays which over time can increase your risk for developing cataracts and macular degeneration.
  6. Stop smoking. It is the single greatest cause of preventable disease. Smoking also increases your risk of developing eye conditions like age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, uveitis and cataracts. Quitting at any age can significantly reduce your risk.

You are important to so many so make time to take care of you!