Many women find that post-menopause - or as they approach menopause - their eyes become dry, itchy and irritable, as a result of hormone changes. Dry eyes can be uncomfortable and frustrating, and can interfere with daily life. However, certain treatments and lifestyle changes can help to reduce the impact of menopause dry eyes.
Why you get dry eyes in menopause
In the years leading up to menopause, known as perimenopause, declining levels of hormones such as oestrogen can cause a number of challenging and uncomfortable symptoms.
Some of the more well known effects of menopause include hot flushes (hot flashes), nights sweats and mood swings. However, dry eyes is another common problem that’s associated with falling levels of oestrogen, and women over the age of 45 have a higher risk of experiencing this symptom.
Falling levels of both oestrogen and androgens are believed to play a role in menopause dry eyes, affecting the eye tissues and also the production of tears, which coat the eye and help to keep it healthy and lubricated.
Some women find that they experience a hot or stinging sensation, blurred vision, a gritty feeling in the eyes, or that they are more sensitive to light.
Menopause dry eyes can be very uncomfortable, but there are a number of things you can do to help soothe your eyes and reduce the symptoms.
How to treat menopause dry eyes
Apply some lubricating eye drops
If your eyes are dry, sore or itchy, using some lubricating eye drops (or ‘artificial tears’) can offer fast and effective relief.
The Live Better With community recommend Systane Ultra Lubricant Eye Drops, which help to soothe and moisturise the eye.
They’re easy to use and handy to carry with you when you’re out and about. Simply apply 1-2 drops to the eyes as and when required, for long-lasting relief:
“After spending a day on the computer my eyes are always dry - even more so since I started the menopause. I love keeping these drops on-hand to help me get back to comfort.” Live Better With community member
Use a soothing gel eye mask
Many women find that using a cooling gel eye mask can help to soothe, relax and refresh dry, hot eyes.
Filled with a naturally cooling gel, they are reusable and can be applied day or night.
For an ultra cool boost, pop the eye mask in the fridge before use. (It can help to have a couple of masks, so that you can use one while the other is cooling.)
Use a humidifier
Some people find it helpful to use a humidifier, which keeps the air moist and helps to reduce eye dryness and irritation.
The Live Better With community recommend the Amir Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser and Humidifier, which also acts as a relaxing diffuser with colour changing lights – simply add in some essential oils to the humidifier to help unwind and de-stress.
Wear special contact lenses
While it’s advisable to steer away from wearing normal contact lenses if you have dry, sore or irritated eyes, specially designed contact lenses are available which work by trapping moisture and protecting your eyes against irritation.
Talk to your doctor or optician for more information.
If you have persistent problems with eye soreness or inflammation, you should consult your doctor, who may prescribe medication such as oral antibiotics.
Managing dry eyes post-menopause
As well as the treatments outlined above, there are lots of other things you can do to help cope with and minimise the symptoms of menopause dry eyes:
Eat a healthy diet
If you’re suffering from dry, sore and irritated eyes, it’s important to make sure you eat a healthy diet that’s rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A, which help to ensure the healthy function of the eye, including tear production. Some good natural sources include salmon, sardines, flax seeds, walnuts, carrots, spinach and broccoli.
It’s also important to make sure you stay hydrated, by drinking 8-10 glasses of water or other non-alcoholic fluids every day. Cutting down on sugar and artificial sweeteners may also help with the symptoms of menopause dry eyes.
Take a supplement
Many women find it beneficial to take a nutritional supplement to help them cope with the symptoms of menopause. When it comes to dealing with dry eyes, the Live Better With community recommend Bioglan Red Krill Oil Capsules, a pure source of Omega-3 which can help with maintaining eye health.
You should always consult your GP before taking any supplement.
You can view the full Live Better With range of supplements here. For more information on taking menopause supplements, see our Beginner’s guide to menopause supplements.
Protect against environmental triggers
Some environmental factors can make dry eyes worse, including cold or dry air, wind, and allergens or irritants such as pollen and smoke. If you’re going outside or doing outdoor activities, wearing a hat or headscarf and protective sunglasses can help.
Fans, air-conditioning and hair dryers can also contribute towards dry eyes, by drying out the air and speeding up the evaporation of tears from the eye’s surface, so you should try to reduce your exposure as far as possible.
Take a break from your screen
Many of us work at computers for a significant part of the day. If you have dry, sore or irritated eyes, it’s important to take regular breaks from your screen.
While you’re taking a breather, make sure you blink several times in succession to help keep your eyes lubricated.
Have you suffered from menopause dry eyes? Do you have any questions, or tips to share? Why not visit the Live Better With Menopause community forum.