Menopause hits a woman between her mid-40s and 50s. Her body goes through a lot of changes. Pain during sex, brain fog or hot flashes are some of the symptoms of menopause that most women may experience. But there is also a link between menopause and dry eyes. It can cause irritation and a lot of discomfort. Let us tell you about the causes of dry eyes during menopause and what you can do to treat them.
What are dry eyes?
Dry eyes, also known as dry eye syndrome or keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is a condition in which the eyes do not produce enough quality tears to keep the surface of the eye adequately lubricated. This can lead to discomfort, irritation and potential damage to the eye’s surface, says Dr Sanjiv Gupta, Director and Senior Eye Surgeon at i Care Centre, New Delhi.
Causes of dry eyes during menopause
Like every symptom of menopause, dry eye also has its causes. Some of them are:
1. Hormonal changes
There is a drop in estrogen levels during menopause and that can affect tear production, leading to dry eyes.
When you grow older, it’s not just wrinkles or fine lines that you start noticing. As people age, tear production tends to decrease, making them more prone to dry eye symptoms.
Certain medications such as antihistamines and decongestants can reduce tear production as a side effect, exacerbating dry eye symptoms during menopause, says the expert.
4. Systemic health conditions
Health conditions like Sjögren’s syndrome, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis can increase the risk of dry eyes, and menopausal women may be more susceptible.
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5. Environmental factors
Exposure to smoke, wind and dry or polluted air can worsen dry eye symptoms in women who are in the menopause phase.
Symptoms of dry eyes during menopause
You will experience dryness in your eye area along with other symptoms such as:
• Burning or having stinging feeling in the eyes.
• Getting a feeling like something has gone inside in the eye.
• Excessive tearing (a reflex response to dryness)
• Blurred vision.
• Redness of the eyes.
• Sensitivity to light.
• Eye fatigue or discomfort, especially when using screens for extended periods.
Dry eyes treatment
You can try some treatment options for dry eyes during menopause. Some of them are:
• Over-the-counter lubricating eye drops
• Anti-inflammatory eye drops or medications to increase tear production
• Applying a warm compress to the eyes can help to stimulate tear glands
• Managing environmental factors and staying hydrated
• Punctal Plugs, which are really small devices that can be inserted into tear ducts to slow tear drainage and retain moisture.
Tips to prevent dry eyes during menopause
Drinking enough water is a great way to prevent dehydration, and staying hydrated with help your eyes apart from other body parts. Here are other ways to prevent dry eyes:
1. Maintain a balanced diet
Ensure you have a diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins that support eye health, suggests Dr Gupta.
2. Use humidifiers
Use humidifiers in dry indoor environments so that they can add moisture to the air. That means you should use humidifiers in your office as well as home.
3. Take breaks
When using screens or reading, take regular breaks to blink and rest your eyes. Constantly looking at your computer will further lead to dry eyes.
It’s essential to consult with an eye specialist if your eyes still hurt.