As if the hot flashes weren’t enough! Many menopausal women are also faced with dry eye symptoms. Dry eye is commonly associated with menopause and unfortunately, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can’t be relied upon to help. In fact, though some studies show small improvements in dry eye with hormone therapy, many others show that it may increase a woman's risk of dry eyes and worsen dry eye symptoms.1
Why Your Eyes Feel Dry
Women describe and experience dry eye in lots of different ways. Some say their eyes feel irritated, scratchy, dry, or uncomfortable, while others complain of having red eyes, or even blurred vision. Commonly, you will notice that these symptoms are worse at the end of the day, especially if you’ve spent a lot of time reading or on the computer.
There are a couple of theories about what causes dry eyes in menopausal women.1-3 Some eye care practitioners think it may be due to a decrease in hormones that help with tear production, while others say menopausal women experience a disruption of chemical signals that maintain a healthy tear film. In either case, having dry eyes can have a big effect on your daily activities.
Overcome Dry Eye
Whatever you do, don’t let dry eye spiral out of control. Over time, excessive dry eyes may damage eye tissue, impair vision, and in very rare cases, scar your corneas. To avoid this, and to offer you some symptomatic relief, your eye care practitioner can recommend treatment. For example, treatment for menopausal dry eye may include over-the-counter or prescription eye drops, dietary supplements, warm compresses, or a combination of these treatments.
If you have dry eyes and are interested in trying contact lenses, talk to your eye care practitioner. There have been many advances in a variety of treatments for dry eye conditions, and your eye care practitioner will be able to make a diagnosis and recommendation about what’s right for you. If all is well with the health of your eyes and the condition of your tear film, your eye care practitioner may give you the green light to try contact lenses.
CooperVision offers lenses that may be ideally suited for you. There are even contact lenses designed to correct presbyopia—another condition that frequently occurs in women around the same age. For example, some daily disposable lenses will allow you to correct your presbyopia with a healthy* lens-wearing experience. clariti® 1 day is one such option that is available in a multifocal for those who have presbyopia.
If you are considering refractive surgery instead of contact lenses, it’s very important that you and your eye care practitioner address your dry eye first since these procedures can exacerbate dry eye, and your post-surgical visual outcomes may be compromised by it.
In any case, options abound, so if you’re suffering from menopausal dry eye, talk to your eye care practitioner about how to get back on the path to comfortable living.
1. TFOS DEWS II, Sex Gender and Hormones Report. The Ocular Surface 15 (2017) 284-33.
2. Dry Eye in the Beaver Dam Offspring Study: Prevalence, Risk Factors, and Health-Related Quality of Life. American journal of ophthalmology. 2014;157(4):799-806.
3. Hormones in Dry-Eye: A Delicate Balance. Review of Ophthalmology. Available at: www.reviewofophthalmology.com/article/hormones-in-dry-eye-a-delicate-balance
* With higher oxygen permeability than hydrogel materials, silicone hydrogel contact lenses minimize or eliminate hypoxia-related signs and symptoms during lens wear.
Nothing in this blog post is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please see your eye care practitioner.