Menopause and dry eyes
Many hormonal changes occur in a woman’s body when they undergo the menopausal phase. The production of reproductive hormones like progesterone and estrogen decreases. Low levels of these hormones cause many symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings and vaginal dryness. In addition to all this, one lesser known symptom is also seen which is called dry eyes. Dry eyes happen when enough tears are not produced or if tears are not effective to lubricate the eyes. It can lead to burning, itchiness, blurry vision and irritation.
Menopause and dry eyes: Why does it happen?
The production of sex hormones decreases during menopause. Few researchers have shown that sex hormones can affect the tear production in some way. However, the exact relation is still not known.
Know the risk factors for dry eyes among women:
Women of age 45 years or above are at high risk of getting dry eyes because menopause usually starts around this age.
Doctors call dry eyes as a multifactorial condition in which several different factors may contribute to the problem.
Usually, dry eyes occur due to one or more of the following factors:
- Reduced tear production
- Tears drying up
- Ineffective tears
Menopause and dry eyes: How is it treated?
Many women with dry eyes after menopause think that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may help them. However, it has not yet been proved through studies that HRT is beneficial for dry eyes. In fact, some studies have shown that HRT can make the symptoms worse. Therefore, treatment of dry eyes is done through medications and lifestyle changes.
- Artificial tears: In most cases, artificial tears can help in relieving the symptoms.
- Medicines to reduce eyelid inflammation: If there is swelling near the edge of the eyelids, it can prevent mixing of oils with tears. The doctor may prescribe advice on oral antibiotics to treat this.
- Medicines for cornea inflammation: Doctor may prescribe eye drops to treat inflammation on the surface of your eyes.
- Drugs to stimulate tears: Drugs which help in increasing tear production.
- Special contact lenses: Some particular kind of contact lenses are available which help in trapping moisture and protect the eye from irritation.
Lifestyle modifications to prevent dry eyes:
- If you work all day long on a computer, take frequent breaks. Close your eyes for few minutes or blink repeatedly.
- Use sunglasses which wrap around the face and can block dry air and wind.
- Using a humidifier can maintain the air moisture level inside your home or office which will help in dry eyes.
- To improve the tear production, take a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin-A like fish, carrots, nuts, etc.
- Contact lenses can worsen the symptoms of dry eyes. Therefore, consult your doctor about switching to glasses or special contact lenses.
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- Peck T, Olsakovsky L, Aggarwal S. Dry Eye Syndrome in Menopause and Perimenopausal Age Group. Journal of Mid-Life Health. 2017;8(2):51-54.
- Versura P1, Campos EC. Menopause and dry eye. A possible relationship. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2005 May;20(5):289-98.