If you're experiencing dry, scratchy or tired eyes, you're not alone!
According to ophthalmologist Anne Sumers, MD, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, " up to 60% of women in periomenopause and menopause have some form of chronic dry eye."
The unfortunate statistic is that only 16% of women know that there is a link between dry eye and menopause.
As women go through menopause, their eyes are affected in numerous ways.
Because there are oestrogen receptors in the eyes, declining hormones often change the composition of the tears your eyes produce. Some women experience a decrease in tear creation; thus, a dry, scratchy sensation coupled with light sensitivity, inflamed eyelids and blurred vision. Other women experience overly teary eyes, but still suffer the same scratchy fate.
Physical characteristics, like the shape of a woman's eyes, can also change during menopause. This new shape might make her eyes a tough fit for contact lenses. Naturally, a poor fit leads to greater discomfort.
The good news? Relief awaits!
Avoid Wind, Dry Air, and Pollutants
- When outside, wear sunglasses as often as possible - they will block the wind (and the sun!) from getting to your sensitive eyes.
- Get a humidifier for your house! It will not only soothe your dry eyes, but also the dry, scaly skin that menopause causes.
- Replace the filter on your air conditioner - doing so will keep irritants from entering your home (and your eyes!).
Lubricate Your Eyes Regularly
• During the day, try out tear substitutes - test out different brands to see what works best for you!
• At nighttime, use gel drops or gels - They last longer and have a tendency to blur vision.
• Limit how many hours a day you wear contact lenses. Also, make sure that your contacts are compatible with the eye drops you’re using.
- Consume plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids (oily fish or supplements) - The antioxidants will help to treat dry eyes and reduce inflammation.
- Flax seed oil supplements can also help relieve dry eye.
- Hydrate! The more water you drink the better off you are (all around!).
Visit an Optometrist
"Early referral to an ophthalmologist is the most important step in getting patients the help they need," Dr. Shaftel says.
Here are some topics to discuss with your doctor:
- Oestrogen-only hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- Tear duct plugs to conserve tear volume
- A medication called "topical cyclosporine A" to reduce inflammation
To learn more, visit www.samenopausesociety.co.za, or speak to your nearest medical practitioner.
Date Published: 08 July 2015