Got dry eyes? You might be menopausal.
According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, most of the people out there suffering from dry, itchy eyes are women in the throes of menopause. In fact, about 61 percent of perimenopausal and menopausal women suffer from dry eye syndrome—and all of its burning, tearing, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and (you guessed it!) dryness. However, only 16 percent of these women realize that hormones—the same ones famed for triggering hot flashes—are to blame, according to the Society for Women’s Health Research.
During perimenopause and menopause, plummeting estrogen levels are believed to alter both the tissues of the eyes and the composition of the tears that they produce, says Dr. Sol Shaftel, M.D., Ph.D., an ophthalmologist and ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery fellow at the University of Washington.
Luckily, there are plenty of simple, healthy ways to relieve dry, itching eyes, and get your baby blues (or browns or greens) working for you again.
So stop rubbing your eyes and find relieve for good with these four easy tips:
Eating unsaturated fatty acids can effectively treat dry eyes, according to a 2011 study from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Shoot to eat at least two portions of fish a week, one of which should be an oily fish such as salmon, tuna, or mackerel. Not a fan of fish? Omega-3 fatty acids supplements also work. Case in point: Daily supplementation of HydroEye, a combination of omega fatty acids, relieves dry eye in (get this) postmenopausal women, study findings published in the October issue of Cornea.
Browse the OTC Aisle
What woman doesn’t love options? Thankfully, when it comes to putting drops in your eyes, you’ve got plenty of them: quick-acting tear substitutes, longer-lasting gel drops, nighttime-use gels, and preservative-free varieties of all of them. Dr. Shaftel recommends starting off with tear substitutes and working your way up until you get the relief you need. Warning to the wise: Don’t use “get the red out” and “clear eye” drops since, when used for longer periods, they can spur rebound redness, inflammation, and dryness.
Take It Easy on Your Eyes
Sure, it sounds like common sense, but chances are you still don’t have eye-care basics down. For instance, there’s limiting your contact lens use, using a humidifier in your house during dry, winter days, cleaning your A/C’s and heater’s air filters of pollutants regularly, and, for goodness’ sake, keep blinking!
See Your Doctor
“See” your doctor! All ocular jokes aside, the right experts are key to finding hormone (and eye!) happiness during menopause. While you should tell your perimenopause and menopause specialist about any menopausal symptoms you experience, dry eye included, ophthalmologists specialize in the anatomy and physiology of the eyes, and can help provide significant relief. Your perimenopause and menopause specialist may even be able to recommend a local eye expert that is experienced in treating menopausal dry eye.
If menopause is leaving you dry somewhere other than (ahem) where you expected, don’t just grin and bear it. End is literally in sight—so do something about it. Trust me, you’ll never look back!
Reaching out is IN! Suffering in silence is OUT!