Dry Eye and Menopause: How to Relieve Your Symptoms
January 28, 2021
When your hormones fluctuate during menopause, your eyesight may too. Although you may not associate eye issues with menopause, one problem is especially common: dry eye. Learn what you can do to relieve the symptoms.
About 60% of women in menopause are affected by dry eye, or a decrease in the creation of tears. Symptoms include tired, itchy, or red eyes. Your eyes may feel scratchy or gritty. You may experience blurriness and sensitivity to light.
8 Tips to Relieve Symptoms of Dry Eye
- Avoid over-the-counter therapies, such as artificial tears, for temporary relief.
- Avoid dry conditions, pollutants, and other irritants like smoke.
- Rest your eyes a rest when you’re doing something that requires you to use your eyes for long periods of time.
- Limit your use of contact lenses.
- Drink plenty of water, milk, and herbal teas to stay hydrated.
- Use a humidifier to reduce the evaporation of your tears.
- Blink at least every five seconds or so, especially when you’re using your computer.
- Sleep more because sleep has anti-inflammatory benefits and gives your eyes a chance to refresh.
If your symptoms are severe or are worsening, see your doctor. Dry eye is not merely an annoyance. If severe symptoms aren’t treated, the surface of your eye may become inflamed, and you could have pain, develop ulcers or scars on the cornea, and experience some loss of vision.
What Your Doctor May Do
First, your physician will rule out any disease that may be the underlying cause. If nothing’s found, your doctor may:
- Prescribe medications, such as cyclosporine, to reduce inflammation, decrease damage to the cornea, and increase tear production.
- Insert tiny plugs into your eyes’ drainage holes to help your eyes retain tears, or even surgically close the drainage holes.
- Advise you to take omega-3 fatty acid supplements or increase your intake of fish, such as tuna, wild salmon, mackerel, and certain nuts and seeds. Omega-3s have been shown to decrease irritation and inflammation.
- Evaluate your other medications to see if they may be contributing to your dry eye. There may be alternatives you can take.
Know that aging itself brings an increased risk for several eye diseases, such as cataracts and glaucoma. So it’s important at this stage of your life to get regular eye exams. Finding conditions early often makes them easier to treat.
Christine M. Stabler, MD, MBA
Christine Stabler, MD, MBA, FAAFP is Medical Director of Women’s Health for Lancaster General Health, a family medicine physician with LG Health Physicians Women's Internal Medicine, and Vice President of Academic Affairs.
Undergraduate—Pennsylvania State University; Medical School—Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University; Residency—Lancaster General Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program; Fellowship—Temple University Hospital.