Coping With a Lesser-Known Menopause Symptom: Dry Eyes
You probably know that menopause sometimes causes night sweats and hot flashes. But did you know that it can cause dry eyes too?
The same hormonal changes that precipitate skin changes and vaginal dryness may also cause dry eyes. Fortunately, there are remedies which can prevent and relieve this annoying, uncomfortable condition.
You are likely to suffer from dry eyes and experience more severe symptoms if you undergo menopause at an early age. Dry eyes are especially likely to occur if early menopause is due to medication, such as chemo therapy, or surgical removal of your ovaries.
Symptoms of Dry Eyes
Symptoms may vary, but include:
- Feeling that you have a foreign body in your eye
- Your eye tissues may feel gritty, as if you have sand in them.
- You may experience blurring of vision.
- Your eyes may become increasingly sensitive to smoke, perfumes, pollen, and other environmental irritants and toxins.
- Despite the term “dry eyes,” your eyes may actually water quite a bit, especially when exposed to sunlight, computer screens, or irritants in the air.
- You may see better and worse intermittently.
- Stringy mucus may be produced.
- Redness, burning, and irritation are common.
Symptoms of dry eyes are made worse by exposure to dry and windy weather. Extremely cold temperatures, air conditioning, and fans may cause irritation. Fatigue and eyestrain worsen discomfort associated with dry eyes.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
Changes in levels of estrogen and progesterone that occur during menopause are often responsible for dry eyes in women.
While dry eyes may occur in anyone, at any age, the condition is most likely to be diagnosed among menopausal and post-menopausal women, and people who suffer from certain health conditions, such as auto-immune diseases.
Many medications cause eye dryness. Steroidal, anti-arthritic, and immune suppressant drugs cause dry eyes, as do medications used to relieve menopause allergies, Parkinson’s disease, high blood pressure, and inflammation.
Natural Ways to Prevent and Treat Dry Eyes
Contact lenses may be uncomfortable, so you may need to wear glasses instead. However, there are contact lenses available designed for people who suffer from dry, irritated eyes.
Stay out of windy, dry environments. Wear good quality sunglasses when you are outside. Consider purchasing a humidifier if your home is dry. Do not sit directly in front of fans, heating ducts, fireplaces, or air conditioners. Use care when drying your hair. The heat and wind from hair dryers may be irritating to your eyes.
Make sure that you stay hydrated. To determine how much fluid you should be drinking in a day, divide your weight in pounds by two, and drink that many ounces. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, drink at least 70 ounces of liquids daily.
Limit your intake of caffeinated beverages, such as coffee and cola, as caffeine is drying. Herbal, black and green teas are better alternatives. While green and black teas contain caffeine, they also contain compounds that enhance the health of your eyes.
Do not smoke. Stay away from smoky environments, fireplaces, woodstoves, and campfires.