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Menopause and Occasional Dry Eye; How They Can Be Connected

When most women think of menopausal symptoms, they imagine hot flashes, moodiness and night sweats. But there’s one symptom that’s often forgotten when hormones begin to fluctuate – occasional dry eye. In fact, occasional dry eye affects 61 percent of menopausal women, according to an article by the Huffington Post.

Why is this?

“We know that hormones are important to your eye health and studies have associated androgen (testosterone) and estrogen receptors on the cornea and on the meibomian gland. What this means is that there is a connection between your tears and your sex hormones,” says an article by WomantoWoman.com

As they continue to explain, “We have much more to learn about how hormones play a role in the lubrication of your eyes, but we are understanding that occasional dry eyes can result from a deficiency in estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone.”

Symptoms include:

  • Eyes that feel itchy, sting or burn
  • Eyes that feel gritty, as if there’s a foreign particle trapped inside.
  • Eyes that feel scratchy.
  • Irritation from environmental conditions like smoke, wind or air movement
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurry vision
  • Contact lens discomfort
  • Excessive watering

Many women experiencing menopause and occasional dry eye mistakenly believe they’ve just got to live with the condition.

“Most patients believe this eye issue is just a fact of life; an unavoidable part of aging and that it’s not a treatable condition…this simply isn’t the case anymore,” says optometrist Sean Mulqueeny, OD, FAAO. “There are many ways we can go about making their lives better. We have all kinds of options that we didn’t have even five years ago.”

WomentoWomen notes that many sufferers often try self-medicate by using eye drops. But this often “is like putting a band-aid on an abscess. We are not looking at the real issue.”

This is why seeking treatment is very important. Over time, it can injure your eyes – even scarring your cornea. This can cause ulcers. Sufferers also face high risks of eye infections because the poor quality of tears within the eyes can’t properly protect or lubricate the eye.

“It is very important to have this conversation with your optometrist,” says Dr. Mulqueeny.

“The key for patients is that they ask questions. ‘Can you help me with this condition?’” he says.

During your visit, your doctor might discuss with you the fact that eye health and nutrition are related. That’s why many doctors often tell their patients to add a fish oil or Omega-3 supplement to their diet. Omega-3’s are essential fatty acids that support healthy tear production and keep eyes moisturized. But not all supplements containing fish oil or Omega 3’s are created equal.

 

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