April 2017
Where You Look Matters

Eyes as a Window to Your Health | Melissa Hunfalvay | TEDxFoggyBottom
Eyes as a Window to Your Health | Melissa Hunfalvay | TEDxFoggyBottom

After playing professional tennis for years, Melissa Hunfalvay developed an eye tracking program to help athletes improve their skill. But the software can tell us more than just where to hit a ball. In this TED Talk , Melissa talks about the eyes and why where you look matters.
Windows to Your Health

Eyes: The Windows to Your Health | National Geographic
Eyes: The Windows to Your Health | National Geographic

Eyes are tiny spheres of wonder. A doctor can find warning signs of high blood pressure, diabetes, and a whole range of other systemic health issues, just by examining your eyes. In this short clip, ophthalmologist Neal Adams explains why the eye's tissues and blood vessels make such a good barometer for wellness.
Click here to view a simple infographic that highlights 8 ways to promote healthy eyes.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 medical doctors, AAO protects sight and empowers lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for patients and the public. Innovation is key to advancing the profess ion of ophthalmology and for ensuring the delivery of the highest-quality eye care.

As part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Eye Institute (NEI) addresses  eye disease as a public health problem through biomedical research, disease prevention, and health promotion programs. NEI conducts and supports research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to blinding eye diseases, visual disorders, mechanisms of visual function, preservation of sight, and the special health needs of the blind.

The National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) oversees public and professional education programs on diabetic eye disease, glaucoma, low vision, special population outreach, and vision and aging. NEHEP also aims to increase awareness among health professionals and the public of science-based health information that can be applied to preserving sight and preventing blindness.

The Health and Medicine Division (HMD) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine aims to help those in government and the private sector make informed health decisions by providing reliable, scholarly evidence. A recent report, " Making Eye Health a Population Health Imperative: Vision for Tomorrow," introduces a population-health approach that promotes optimal eye and vision health.
Women's Eye Health
It's often said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. But when we talk about holistic women's health, very rarely do we include the eyes as a barometer of wellness. April is Women's Eye Health and Safety Month, so for the first time in a while we'll take a closer look at the organs that help us see.

Women are More Likely to Have Eye Problems
Eyesight affects how people perceive and interpret the world. And it is an unfortunate fact that women are more likely than men to have eye-related problems, increasing their risk of falls and injuries, social isolation, depression, and other psychological problems. Vision-related issues can also potentially amplify the adverse effects of other chronic illnesses.  Why are women more susceptible to eye health issues than men? There are a number of reasons, including:

Birth control: These may cause blood clots and strokes, which can cause vision problems. They can also increase women's chances for cataracts and dry eye.
Menopause: Women who undergo menopause may experience dry eye syndrome and eye inflammation.
Fertility drugs: Women who take fertility drugs may experience spots in their vision.

Breast cancer: Drugs taken to treat or prevent breast cancer can increase the risk of cataracts, eye bleeds, itchy eyes, and light sensitivity.

Autoimmune diseases: Women are more likely to experience lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren's syndrome (which destroys the moisture-producing glands in the eye and mouth). Each can negatively impact the eye.

Eye Health During Pregnancy
Expectant moms know their bodies will change in a number of ways during pregnancy, but they may be surprised to find that their eyes and vision can change somewhat too. Often times these changes occur due to excess fluid retention, increased blood volume, hormonal fluctuations, and other physical shifts (like blood pressure) that are part of pregnancy. Usually these changes are temporary and resolve after the baby is born, or after weaning a breast-fed child.   

What kind of changes can a pregnant woman expect? Vision may occasionally become slightly blurry for a short time. Eyes may also become dry or more irritated. And the fluid retention that causes swollen ankles can change the shape of the  cornea , affecting how well vision is corrected with contacts or glasses. In fact, some women who experience vision changes during pregnancy find that they are slightly more nearsighted postpartum. 

How can women maintain their eye health during pregnancy? The American Academy of Ophthamology has 5 eye-care tips specifically for moms-to-be, including ways to diminish dry eye and reduce eye puffiness, and the importance of speaking with a health professional about any diabetes, glaucoma, or signs of preeclampsia.

Preventing Vision Problems
Vision impairment is a significant public health problem that affects the health, economic well-being, and productivity of women, families, and society as a whole. There are actions women can take to prevent eye and vision problems, but population health approaches are also needed to create the conditions in which women can have the fullest capacity to see.
Eye Health Resources

Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness has become the nation's leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight. Through education, support of groundbreaking research, and a focus on promoting a continuum of vision care, Prevent Blindness has and continues to touch the lives of millions of people each year.

To address issues related to women's eye health, Prevent Blindness launched See Jane See - Women's Healthy Eyes Now, a web-based educational campaign dedicated solely to women's vision health. This user-friendly resource explains the risks, conditions, and treatments that are specifically relevant to women. It offers free information and downloadable tip sheets on a variety of eye-related issues for women across the age spectrum.
New Blog Post!

In the blog " Together Always, in Darkness and in Light," Nicole C. Kear -- author of the memoir "Now I See You" -- describes her gradual journey into blindness, the strain it put on her marriage, her struggle with motherhood, and the eventual realization that life can go on with the support of a loved one.

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