Menopause, as well as the several years of perimenopause that come before the end of menstruation, can be quite the roller coaster for most women. If you are near menopause, you may know the symptoms very well. One day you may feel like yourself and, the next, feel run down and irritable. As we have become more communicative about menopause and its effects on a woman’s life, we have come to know that the telltale signs of this life change, including hot flashes and night sweats, are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to these, a woman may also face changes to all aspects of health, including her eyes. Here, we discuss how women facing hormone-related dry eye syndrome can cope.
What is Dry Eye Syndrome and Why Does it Develop?
We may all get dry eyes from time to time. Dry eye syndrome is characterized by the frequent or ongoing issue in which the tear film evaporates too quickly, causing uncomfortable symptoms. Tears aren’t just for crying; they are present at all times on the ocular surface. The tear film is made of mucus, oil, and water in perfect ratios. Throw off the ratios and the tear film falls short of doing its job well. Without sufficient coverage over the ocular surface, the eyes feel gritty, irritated with a burning or itching sensation, and excessively watery. The inflammation on the ocular surface can also cause redness and blurry vision.
Research has not pinpointed an exact reason for the connection between dry eye syndrome and menopause. It is assumed that the change in hormones may be involved, However, studies also suggest that women taking hormone replacement therapy may also experience dry eye syndrome. This information leaves doctors and patients in the position of looking for alternative ways to manage eye health.
Treating Dry Eye Syndrome
Whether related to menopause or not, dry eye syndrome deserves effective intervention. To help improve the quality of the tear film, we may look at diet and supplementation options. We may prescribe eye drops that soothe and lubricate the eyes. Medications may also be taken to promote optimal tear production. Clinical treatments such as LipiFlow can also be beneficial. LipiFlow is a brief office procedure that heats and vibrates the eyelids to unblock tear-producing meibomian glands. In some cases, punctal plugs may be needed to prevent tears from draining too quickly.