We usually associate dry eye with changes of the season. The arid winter wind can make our eyes feel dry and irritated because of the lack of moisture in the air. Allergy season can make eyes red and scratchy when trees blossom and spread their pollen during springtime. But what about our own hormones? Have you ever considered that dry eye might come from internal changes in the body that seem to have nothing to do with the eyes?
Menopause does not really cause dry eye, but symptoms of dry eye may begin around the same time as menopause. This should not be surprising, as the body is not as limber or flexible as it was in youth. With age comes the need to hydrate more and the need to moisturize. This can happen in the eyes, and many women may experience light sensitivity, blurry vision, and burning, gritty irritation in the eyes as their body changes. Symptoms of dry eye are often independent of weather and seasonal changes and have more to do with the eyes’ lack of natural lubrication.
When to visit your ophthalmologist
Dry eye is not dangerous, so many women may just ignore symptoms or downplay their symptoms. However, dry eye can be anything from annoying to actually interfering with everyday tasks. If dry eye is causing persistent redness, causing pain, or preventing clear vision, it is affecting quality of life and deserves medical attention. For mild cases of dry eye, a simple over-the-counter drop may be sufficient to provide relief. Acute cases, though, may need prescription medication.
What can be done to prevent dry eye?
There is no turning back the clock, so age-related dry eye is sometimes just part of growing older. There may be a few choices that you can make, however, to reduce the symptoms of dry eye. If you are a smoker, cigarette smoke can cause eye irritation and dryness. Just add dry eye to your running list of reasons to quit smoking! Diuretics such as caffeine can affect dry eye as well, so it might be time to try to cut back on Starbucks or Diet Coke. Direct air currents can also make eyes feel dry. Adding some moisture to your home like using a humidifier may help tremendously to introduce moisture into the air (Source: Fox).
Stay current with comprehensive eye exams
Problems with dry eye may not prompt you to call to your ophthalmologist, but staying current with your comprehensive eye exams will help your eye doctor diagnose and treat an eye condition that needs attention. Other age-related eye conditions that commonly begin around the age of menopause are early cataracts, glaucoma and diabetes-related eye conditions like diabetic retinopathy. Knowing the symptoms of these conditions can be helpful when experiencing vision challenges. Never try to diagnose yourself, though. A call to your ophthalmologist will help you know whether your condition is normal or requires an appointment. If in doubt, schedule an appointment with your eye care professional to have an examination.