Dry eyes can be a common symptom of menopause. Fluctuating hormones can cause changes to the eye tissues and affect the natural production of tears, making the eyes feel dry, sore and irritated. Here's how to treat menopausal dry eyes and help make things feel more comfortable and manageable.
Why you get dry eyes during menopause
As menopause approaches, key hormones such as oestrogen and androgens start to fluctuate and this can have a number of effects, including making your eyes feel dry and sore.
The surface of the eye is covered in a protective tear film, which helps to keep the eye moist and lubricated. When hormone levels begin to change, the delicate balance of this layer also changes, and your tears can become less effective. This can lead to dry, stinging, gritty and irritated eyes. If untreated, it can also increase the risk of inflammation and infections.
While tear production generally decreases as we get older, research shows that women of menopausal age are much more likely to suffer from dry eyes.
How to treat dry eyes during menopause
It you’re suffering from menopausal dry eyes, it’s important to keep them soothed and well lubricated.
Many women find that using artificial tears can help to combat menopausal dry eyes, by supplementing natural tear production and keeping the eyes moist and comfortable.
Lubricating eye drops such as Systane Ultra Lubricant Eye Drops can help to moisturise dry and itchy eyes, and their effects are fast and long-lasting.
If your eyes feel hot and sore, using a cooling gel eye mask can provide soothing relief day or night, as well as helping to bring down your temperature.
Keeping the surrounding air moist can also help to reduce the impact of menopausal dry eyes. The Live Better With Community recommend using a humidifier, such as the ProBreeze Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier which releases a cool hydrating mist for up to 30 hours at a time and is fully adjustable (and it can also help with those hot flushes!)
Coping with and managing dry eyes
Menopausal dry eyes can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, but there are a number of things you can do to help reduce any triggers and manage the symptoms day to day:
Wrap up well
Exposing your eyes to cold, dry or polluted air can dry your eyes out further, adding to your symptoms. If you’re planning to go outside or take part in any active sports, such as skiing or running, wrapping up in a scarf or wearing a pair of wrap-around sunglasses can help protect your eyes from cold air, wind, pollutants and allergens such as pollen.
Rest your eyes
Working at a computer can also irritate dry and sore eyes, so make a point of taking a break from your screen regularly. Similarly, air conditioning can also be very drying for sensitive eyes, so try to avoid it if you can.
Eating a balanced and nutritious diet can also help to promote healthy tear production. In particular, Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin A can help to support the eye’s natural function, so you should include these in your diet - salmon, walnuts, spinach and broccoli are good sources.
The Live Better With community also recommend Bioglan Red Krill Oil Capsules, which are a rich source of Omega-3. (Please note you should always consult your doctor before taking any nutritional supplements.)
It’s also important to drink plenty of water or other non-alcoholic fluids, to make sure your body stays well hydrated. Around 8-10 glasses a day is recommended.
You can find out more about dry or itchy skin and eyes here.
If you’re looking for advice on menopausal dry eyes, or have any tips or stories to share, why not visit the Live Better With Menopause community forum?