Menopause can bring many hormonal changes. During this time of transition, your body stops making reproductive hormones like estrogen and progesterone. Lower levels of estrogen are associated with a host of symptoms, like hot flashes.
Some women experience lesser known but equally uncomfortable conditions, like dry eye. Dry eyes are caused by problems with your tears. Dry eye occurs when your tears aren’t able to provide adequate lubrication for your eyes. Sometimes you don’t produce enough volume or high-quality tears. You may experience a stinging or burning sensation. Other symptoms include sensitivity to light, redness, watery eyes and even blurred vision.
But what’s unique about menopause as it relates to eye issues? As people age, tear production decreases. The aging process increases your risk of dry eyes, regardless of your sex. Postmenopausal women, however, may be more at risk. Sex hormones are involved in tear production, so it makes sense that lower levels might impact lubrication.
Beyond hormonal factors, eye doctors have identified other different things that may contribute to the problem. Typically, dry eye problems stem from one or more of the following:
- dry winter air
- outdoor activities like skiing, running, and boating
- contact lenses
Like many eye conditions, mild cases of dry eyes can be managed and controlled with a care regimen. Your Midwest Eye Consultants doctor may recommend over-the-counter artificial tears to provide temporary relief from dry eye symptoms. It’s important to choose a brand without preservatives or one with special non-irritating preservatives. Ask your doctor for a recommendation on a specific product. Some patients may require prescription drugs, eye inserts, or special contact lenses.
As far as prevention, your daily lifestyle can help or hinder eye health. It’s a good idea to limit prolonged screen time, smoking and exposure to extreme weather. Wearing contacts for too long can be irritating as well.
As with any eye or vision-related condition, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. It’s best to see your Midwest Eye Consultants doctor if you’ve had prolonged signs and symptoms of dry eyes. He or she can help you determine if further action is needed and provide a customized treatment plan for you as you age.