Most women go through menopause in their late forties or fifties. During this time, they experience numerous changes, from hot flashes to mood swings. But did you know menopause can also lead to dry eye disease? It’s true. Many women who undergo menopause will experience dry eyes, a condition that affects the film of moisture that covers the front of your eye. This blog post will explore the connection between menopause and dry eye disease and what women can do to manage it.
Understanding dry eye disease
Dry eye disease is a condition that occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears, or the tears are of poor quality. If left untreated, severe cases can lead to vision loss or other ocular diseases. Although it can affect anyone at any age, dry eye disease is more common among women, particularly during menopause.
Common symptoms of dry eye disease include:
- A stinging, burning, or scratchy sensation in the eyes
- Stringy mucus in or around the eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Eye redness
- A feeling of having something in the eyes
- Blurred vision
- Excessive watering of the eyes
- Discomfort when wearing contact lenses
The connection between menopause and dry eye disease
As women go through menopause, hormonal changes occur that can affect tear production and quality, leading to dry eye. During menopause, estrogen levels begin to decline, resulting in less moisture production throughout the body, including the eyes. As the amount and quality of the tears in the eye decrease, dry eye symptoms may develop.
Additionally, women who are on hormone replacement therapy may also experience dry eyes. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a medical treatment that can help relieve the symptoms of menopause. It involves supplementing the body’s estrogen levels to alleviate the discomfort and challenges of menopause. Introducing supplemental hormones through HRT can cause hormonal fluctuations that affect the tear film’s stability and lead to dry eye symptoms. Each woman’s response to HRT can vary, and some may be more susceptible to developing dry eye symptoms while on hormone replacement therapy.
Other factors that can cause dry eye post-menopause include certain medications, autoimmune diseases, allergies, and environmental conditions like windy and dry climates.
Managing dry disease during menopause
If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms during menopause, there are several strategies you can take to manage them. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water can help keep your eyes lubricated. You can also use artificial tears or lubricating eye drops to keep your eyes moist. Additionally, take frequent breaks from digital devices and avoid exposing your eyes to harsh weather conditions.
At Buckeye Optometry in Marion, we offer a range of dry eye treatments to help you alleviate discomfort and improve eye health. When you come in for an eye exam, our team will conduct a series of diagnostic tests to thoroughly evaluate your tear film quality and quantity and assess the severity of your dry eye symptoms. We will then develop a customized treatment plan that addresses the root cause of your dry eye syndrome.
Here are some common ways we treat dry eye syndrome:
- Prescription eye drops to reduce inflammation
- Bruder Mask™ moist heat eye compresses
- Punctal plugs (tiny plugs inserted painlessly into the tear ducts to slow the drainage process)
- Blinking exercises or proper eyelid hygiene
- Lifestyle changes such as using a humidifier in dry environments
If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms during menopause or have any other eye health concerns, schedule an appointment with us today. Our team is here to provide personalized care and help you find relief from your symptoms.