Dry eye is one of the lesser-known symptoms of menopause. It affects roughly 61% of perimenopausal and menopausal women. Common symptoms include excessive tear production, itchy red eyes and a burning or gritty feeling in the eyes.
Why do perimenopausal (which means “around menopause”) and menopausal women suffer from dry eyes?
How Menopause and Dry Eyes Are Connected
The glands under the skin of your upper eyelids are responsible for producing tears (which are spread over your eyes whenever you blink) and oils (which prevent the tears from evaporating too quickly) that help keep them moist. However, during menopause, low androgen and estrogen hormone levels can affect tear production, which in turn cause dry eye.
How to Relieve Symptoms of Dry Eye
Here’s an overview of the treatment options for chronic dry eye symptoms:
- Artificial tears – Artificial tears are eye drops that help keep your eyes moist.
- Eye inserts – If artificial tears are not able to alleviate dry eye symptoms, your eye doctor might prescribe a hydroxypropyl cellulose insert that slowly releases a substance to lubricate your eye as it dissolves.
- Tear-stimulating medication – Drugs like pilocarpine and cevimeline can increase tear production to alleviate dry eye symptoms.
Making a few lifestyle changes can also help alleviate dry eye symptoms. In particular, we recommend:
- Limiting screen time – Whenever you blink, the eyelids spread tears on the outer surface of your eyes, keeping it moist. However, when you’re staring at a screen, you tend to blink less often, which in turn may cause dry eyes. To prevent dry eye, we recommend observing the 20-20-20 rule (look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes).
- Switching to eyeglasses – Contact lenses can exacerbate the symptoms of dry eye. That’s why it would be a good idea to switch to eyeglasses until the symptoms go away.
If symptoms persist, you should set an appointment with one of your local eye doctors as soon as possible.
Looking for eye doctors near you?
Insight Vision Center Optometry offers a wide range of professional eye care services. To schedule an appointment, call us at (714) 486-3315, or fill out this form. We serve homeowners in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach as well as the surrounding communities.