Post-Menopausal Dry Eye & Eye Health Facts
Approximately 61% of perimenopausal and menopausal women suffer from dry eyes. The changes in hormones that women experience, which lead to symptoms like hot flashes, sweating, and even insomnia, can also affect eye health. Post-menopausal dry eye can be uncomfortable, affecting your life. Read on for eye health facts to help you deal with dry eye symptoms.
Why Does Post-Menopausal Dry Eye Happen?
Men and women over 50 years old experience a natural reduction in tear production, but post-menopausal women are more at risk. This is because androgen and estrogen levels change, with androgen decreasing and affecting the meibomian and lacrimal glands in your eyelids. Androgen levels in women are already lower than in men, but after menopause, they decrease even more. The meibomian glands produce the essential oils necessary for tears, so this significant decrease causes tear evaporation and dry eyes.
When these hormone decreases affect the tear-production glands, eyelids tend to become inflamed, leading to post-menopausal dry eye. Some of the symptoms of post-menopausal dry eye are:
- Burning eyes
- Red eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Gritty feeling in the eyes
- Blurred vision
- A sensation that something is in your eye
- Light sensitivity
- Tired eyes
Some researchers also believe estrogen levels may play a role in dry eye conditions, which explains why some women experience dry eyes while taking birth control or during different stages of their cycle.
Treatments for Post-Menopausal Dry Eye
When looking for eye health facts about dry eye syndrome after menopause, you may come across the idea of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for treating dry eyes. Although there are instances when HRT has helped decrease symptoms, large doses can make dry eyes worse.
Over-the-counter medications are available to treat post-menopausal dry eye. Artificial tears can, in many instances, be enough to ease symptoms. Remember to choose eye drops without preservatives so you can use them as many times a day as you need to. There are also lubricating gels and ointments, but these can cloud your vision. Depending on your condition, various prescription medications can also be effective.
Certain drugs can decrease inflammation in the eyelids. Inflammation can keep oils from mixing with your tears, and a simple oral antibiotic can help. If you have inflammation on the surface of your eyes, corticosteroids can be an effective treatment. Eye inserts can also be helpful if artificial tears are not working. These tiny inserts go between your eyelid and eyeball and slowly release lubrication.
To stimulate tears, drugs called cholinergic help with tear production. There are also drugs made from your own blood and specialty contact lenses that trap moisture and prevent irritation.
Eye Health Facts on Prevention & Treatment
You can do things to reduce the risk of developing post-menopausal dry eye. Hydration is vital, as is getting a good amount of sleep each night. In addition, you want to get into the habit of consuming omega-3 fatty acids and using regular eye drops. Finally, minimize the exposure to irritants like dust. Avoid using fans when you sleep, and wear wraparound sunglasses outdoors to prevent drafts. If possible, have a humidifier in your home.
If you are perimenopausal or post-menopausal and are struggling with dry eye symptoms, there are ways to relieve the discomfort of this condition. From over-the-counter medications to preventative lifestyle changes, you can get the help you need. At Looking Glass Optical, we provide treatment options for many eye conditions, including dry eye, allergy concerns, cataracts, and more. Get more eye health facts or find the right solution for conditions affecting your eyes by calling us today.