If you’ve ever wondered why your eyes started getting drier after menopause, you’re not alone. There’s a startling connection between menopause and dry eye, and the reasons may be more complex than you think. We’re basically experts in the care of dry eye (and in Dr. Rautio’s case, he actually is an expert). We know that it can make your eyes feel scratchy, irritated, light sensitive, and leave your vision blurry. Sometimes, dry eyes can even lead to your eyes being watery in a very unhelpful way.
Your tear film is comprised of three different parts; an oily component, a watery component, and a mucous-like component that work together, each serving a critical role to keep your eyes hydrated. The lipid layer of your tears coats the watery component, allowing them to hydrate your eyes. The aqueous layer helps protect against infectious agents, and the mucous layer allows for even tear distribution. A problem with any of these parts can lead to dry eyes. The correlation of hormone changes on tear film for perimenopausal women is not entirely clear—in fact, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) may cause drier eyes in menopausal women.
All is not lost for those experiencing the change of life, however! Sometimes Over the Counter (OTC) eye drops can help your symptoms. These could be preservative-free artificial tears, of varying viscosities. In more severe cases, an optometrist or ophthalmologist can test for Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) which can be treated using the methods found here. Sometimes, your doctor may recommend punctal plugs, which involve a safe in-office placement of flexible plugs to allow your eyes’ natural tears to stay on the surface of your eye longer.
Rest assured, however, that no matter what causes your dryness, there are many treatment options to resolve the issue. The change of life doesn’t have to change your way of life anymore!