Close
;

Dry Eye and Menopause Demystified 

When it comes to Dry Eye and Menopause, there’s a lot of confusion out there. Many people don’t know how the two are related and with both being conditions that are surrounded by misinformation, it’s time to break it down and demystify the topic.  

 

What is Dry Eye Disease 

 

Dry Eye Disease is a condition that can cause symptoms like itchiness, dryness, redness, and discomfort. There are various types of Dry Eye including Aqueous Deficient Dry Eye when your eyes don’t produce enough tears, Evaporative Dry Eye where your tears evaporate too quickly, and Mixed Dry Eye where you suffer from both aqueous tear deficiency and tear instability.[1] It’s an incredibly common condition with some reports suggesting that approximately of the UK adult population suffers from Dry Eye Disease.[2]  

 

While Dry Eye Disease is a condition in its own right, there are various conditions that report dry eye as a symptom, often leading to it being underreported, underdiagnosed, and undertreated. However, there are many things you can do to tackle the symptoms of Dry Eye Disease. The risk factors vary, so the treatment has to vary too but, with environmental changes, lifestyle changes, and the use of medicated dry eye drops you can tackle it effectively and find relief from the symptoms.  

 

Still, myths exist so let’s challenge them:  

 

 

Dry Eye Myths  

 

There are no treatments for dry eye

While there’s not necessarily a cure for Dry Eye Disease there are treatments that can bring relief and combat the symptoms. Depending on what the cause of your dry eye is, you can take different approaches. If your environment is triggering symptoms of Dry Eye disease taking steps like using a humidifier indoors and wearing sunglasses during summer can help. Lifestyle changes like quitting smoking and drinking more water can also help.[3] One of the main treatments for Dry Eye Disease is the use of eye gel and eye drops.[4] If you’re interested in learning more, check out our range of eye drops here. 

 

Dry Eye Disease only causes eyes to feel dry

While dryness and a feeling of grit is a common sign of Dry Eye Disease, the condition can also cause your eyes to feel watery.[5] When eyes dry out it can cause you to produce excess tears so if you experience your eyes streaming often, it might be a symptom of the disease.   

 

Dry Eye Disease isn’t serious

Oftentimes because of how common the condition is, people won’t take Dry Eye Disease seriously. This is part of the reason it’s so underreported and undertreated. However, it can actually cause lasting damage to your vision.[6] Tears are important to providing oxygen to your eye. Without this, your cornea can become infected and damaged which will blur the vision. Over time scarring or even tearing can develop, leading to permanent vision loss.[7]  

 

Additionally, dry eye can be a symptom of a serious condition, so ignoring it can be dangerous. Around half of people treated for glaucoma also have dry eye.[8] Glaucoma is the name for a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve and is the leading cause of blindness for people over the age of 60.[9] Taking your symptoms seriously and speaking to your doctor is the best way to ensure you don’t experience further damage to your vision or your eyes.  

 

One of the conditions that report dry eye as a symptom most frequently is menopause. Around 61% of perimenopausal (the stage at which you experience symptoms of menopause but your periods have yet to stop) and menopausal women are affected by Dry Eye Syndrome.[10] This is caused by a number of factors, but the androgen hormone plays a crucial role in this as it affects the meibomian and lacrimal glands within the eyelids that provide essential oils for your tears. When these hormones decrease, so does the body’s ability to produce tears, leading to Dry Eye Disease.  

 

Similarly to Dry Eye Disease, menopause is often shrouded by mystery and confusion.  

 

 

Menopause Myths 

 

Only Severe Menopause Symptoms Need Treatment

Just like Dry Eye Disease, often people believe that the symptoms of menopause are a part of life and aging, meaning they don’t seek help. However, there’s no need to suffer in silence. If symptoms of menopause are causing you problems in your daily life, then it’s a good time to approach a professional and seek help. This is especially because many health risks increase post-menopause. Just like Dry Eye, the symptoms you’re experiencing could be indicators of more serious illnesses. For example, perimenopausal women are at the prime age for Sjögren’s syndrome, a systemic disease that manifests with dry eye and dry mouth.[11]  

 

More than just concern for your overall health, should be a concern for your quality of life. If hot flashes, low mood, and insomnia are stopping you from being able to socialise or work then you should speak to a doctor. Menopause doesn’t have to stop you from living fully, just as suffering from symptoms of dry eye shouldn’t stop you from enjoying yourself.  

 

Menopause begins at 50 

While most women enter menopause in their later lives, it is possible for you to begin experiencing perimenopausal symptoms including Dry Eye Disease at any age. Additionally, perimenopause can cause you to experience a wide range of symptoms far before you actually enter menopause – it could even be up to 15 years before your periods stop and you officially enter menopause.[12]  

 

There’s nothing you can do about symptoms of menopause

Whole menopause is a natural part of life, there are steps you can take to reduce the effect of the symptoms on your life. The most effective treatment to combat the symptoms of menopause is Hormone Replacement Therapy. This tops up hormone levels that are reduced or depleted during this stage of life, helping to reduce symptoms that are caused by the decrease in hormonal levels.  

If you’re not interested in starting HRT , there are lifestyle changes one can make to help manage symptoms. Increasing exercise can release endorphins and strengthen bones, a plant-based diet can provide the nutrients you need, and pelvic floor exercises help prevent urinary incontinence and pelvic prolapse.[13]  

 

 

How can you deal with Dry Eyes during menopause?  

If you’re currently going through menopause and struggling with Dry Eye disease, you’re not alone. Both conditions can be incredibly isolating and make it hard for you to carry out everyday tasks like socialising or going into the office. But dry eyes during menopause are a very common symptom and one that luckily, can be treated. Over the counter eye drops can help to hydrate and protect the eyes, while lifestyle and diet changes can help ensure that proper tear production is supported. Take steps today to improve your environment for best effect.  

 

 

For more information on Dry Eye and Menopause, take a look at our other blogs on the subject and get in touch today to discuss how we can help.  

 

References

  1. Cleveland Clinic, ‘Dry Eye’, 28/11/2022, Last Accessed May 2024
  2. M Vidal-Rohr, J P Craig, L N Davies, J S Wolffsohn, ‘The Epidemiology of Dry Eye Disease in the UK: The Aston Dry Eye Study’, Contact lens & anterior eye: The Journal of British Contact Lens Association vol. 48,3 (2023), Last Accessed May 2024
  3. Diagnostic Eye Centre, ‘7 of The Top Dry Eye Myths to Avoid’, Last Accessed May 2024
  4. Dry Eye and Me, ‘Dry Eyes Treatment and Prevention’, Last Accessed May 2024
  5. NHS, ‘Watering Eyes’, Last Accessed May 2024
  6. Mayo Clinic, ‘Dry Eyes’, 23/09/2022, Last Accessed May 2024
  7. Smart Eye Care, ‘Are Dry Eyes a Serious Problem?’, Last Accessed May 2024
  8. Glaucoma UK, ‘Dry Eye’, Last Accessed May 2024
  9. Boyd, Kierstan, ‘What is Glaucoma? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment’, 04/12/2013, Last Accessed May 2024
  10. Dry Eye Care, ‘What’s the Link Between Dry Eye and Menopause?’ 08/04/2021, Last Accessed May 2024
  11. Alersitz, Katrina, ‘Perimenopausal Women Needs Extra Dry Eye Care’, 15/12/2006, Last Accessed May 2024
  12. Stills, Sharon, ‘Top 10 Menopause Myths – Busted!’, 27/02/2023, Last Accessed May 2024
  13. Boxall, Joanna, ‘The Menopause: Demystified’, 27/02/2024, last Accessed May 2024
Back to news