Dry Eyes After Menopause
Menopause is a natural part of the aging process that marks the end of your menstrual cycle. During menopause, your body produces less androgen, progesterone, and estrogen, causing a host of uncomfortable symptoms – including hot flashes, sweating, insomnia, and for some women, dry eyes.
Symptoms of Dry Eyes
Dry eyes can be unpleasant, and can lead to itchiness, burning, and redness. You may feel as if there is sand or grit in your eyes, causing your vision to blur and your eyes to tear up.
With dry eyes, it is often difficult to do work that requires long periods of screen time, which may limit your ability to do your job well. Additionally, if you usually wear contact lenses, you might want to switch to glasses for additional comfort. Having objects in your eyes when they are already itchy and sore can aggravate your dry eye symptoms.
Biological Changes That Can Affect Your Eyes
During menopause, your androgen supply decreases, affecting your eyelids’ lacrimal and meibomian glands. With this change comes a decrease in oil and fluid production; the eyelids may produce fewer tears and less tear quality, leading to dry eyes.
Research indicates a link between dry eye and changing estrogen levels, which can explain why an increase in dry eye symptoms coincides with your menstrual period or taking birth control.
The Effects of Dry Eye
Having dry eyes can cause or worsen your existing health conditions. For example, with fewer tears to flush allergens out of your eyes, your allergy symptoms may worsen. Severe dry eye symptoms may indicate Sjogren’s syndrome, a disease that causes dry mouth and dry eyes.
How to Treat Menopause-Related Dry Eyes
Since reduced hormones after menopause generally cause meibomian gland dysfunction, resulting in dry eye, treatment can focus on this condition. Remedies typically include artificial tears, eyelid hygiene, lubricating eye drops, warm compresses, oral antibiotics, and corticosteroid eye drops once the tear film is healthy.
Moreover, since dry eye during menopause is hormone-related, studies indicate keeping hormone levels in check can reduce the risk of dry eye syndrome. Your doctor can prescribe hormone replacement therapy to treat menopausal symptoms and bring your estrogen levels back into balance. While restoring estrogen could reduce the possibility of eye disease, patients undergoing hormone therapy may be more prone to developing dry eye symptoms.
Natural Remedies for Dry Eyes
- Take herbal supplements, including St. John’s wort, ginseng, black cohosh, red clover, Dong quai, kava, and primrose oil.
- Eat foods rich in vitamin D or take a vitamin D supplement to obtain a daily dose of 600 I.U.
- Making lifestyle changes can help reduce dry eye irritants and prevent worsening symptoms.
- Reduce your daily screen time in favor of activities that let you rest your eyes, such as listening to music or audiobooks.
- Avoid using a ceiling fan while you sleep and turn air vents away from your face.
- Wear wraparound sunglasses when outdoors.