Dry Eyes and the Menopausal Transition
Oct 01, 2020
Do you have dry eyes? Did you connect this symptom with your menopausal transition? All kinds of dryness are linked with menopause, dry hair, dry skin, dry vagina, and even dry eyes! Unfortunately, this issue tends to increase post menopausally.
The problem is due to changes in your tears. Tears help to protect and lubricate your eyes. The problem could be due to a decrease in tear production, tear evaporation, or just downright ineffective tears.
Signs your eyes are dry include:
- your eyes feeling dry and scratchy
- having red, swollen, or sore eyes
- being sensitive to lights
- increased tendency for eye infections
- having a watery eye
Watery dry eye - it doesn't sound right, does it? But if your eyes aren't lubricating correctly then this irritation signals your eyes to produce more tears.
Let's consider what tears are made of.
- The mucus layer. This coats the surface of the eye and helps bind the tear to the eye.
- The water or aqueous layer. This hydrates and nourishes the eye, protects the cornea, and fights potential infections. It is also where the protein, electrolytes, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals are found. (Sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, Vitamins A, B (especially B2, B6, B12), C, D, E, and zinc.)
- The oily layer. This prevents the outer layer of tears from evaporating and keeps the tears surface smooth so you can see through it. If tears evaporate too quickly dry eyes develop.
So why is this happening now? We don't 100% know but we have previously assumed it was linked to lower estrogen levels but HRT can make it worse, not better? Plus newer studies are pointing towards it being more likely to be an issue related to lower androgens like testosterone.
So what can I do?
- Look at your complete symptom picture, could testosterone deficiency be part of the problem?
- Consider if you are deficient in any of the key nutrients needed for healthy eyes and tear formations eg Vitamin A, B, C, D, E, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium.
- Stay well hydrated
- Lubricate the eye from the inside out. Fish oil is good but I prefer Sea Buckthorn as it also contains Omega 7. This oil helps cells retain moisture and helps reduce redness, discomfort, and inflammation in dry eyes. Side note - it's great for all forms of dryness.
- Protect your eyes from extreme weather eg wind, sun, cold
- Avoid long hours looking at screens and wear blue-blocking glasses
- Rethink the airconditioner
- Get a humidifier, to reduce the dryness in the air
- Avoid allergens that irritate your eye. Consider getting an air filter for your home.
- Don't wear contact lenses. Wear glasses instead if you need them.
PLEASE speak to your optometrist about whether eye drops, lubricating ointments, or gels are right for you.
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