Women in their 40s or 50s experience what is called menopause, which is a natural aging process that involves a complete stop in the production of reproductive hormones in the ovaries. It affects all of the systems of the body, including the eyes. The decrease in estrogen levels can alter one’s eyesight. Even the shape of the eyes undergoes a slight change, making it hard for women to wear contact lenses comfortably.
Eye Conditions Associated With Menopause
The following are some of the most common eye conditions that affect women during menopause:
Dry Eyes – Women over the age of 50 have been shown to be at high risk of developing symptoms of dry eye syndrome such as blurred vision, light sensitivity and swollen or reddened eyelids. The decrease in hormone levels can also lower the salinity of the inner tear film and the oils of the outer tear film.
Cataracts – Decreased hormone levels can also increase the risk for cataracts. Common signs and symptoms include seeing fading colors and halos around light sources and having difficulty seeing at night. Scheduling regular visits to your eye exam doctor can help detect this condition early.
Glaucoma – This eye condition is also common in menopausal women. It leads to the damage of the optic nerve, usually from increased eye pressure. Early detection and treatment can help protect the eyes from vision loss associated with glaucoma.
Eye Care During Menopause
Taking a proactive approach is the best way to preserve your vision during your menopause years. In addition to annual eye exams, your eye doctor may recommend hormone therapy to restore your estrogen levels. While it may help reduce the risk of developing these eye conditions, patients who undergo such are four to seven times more likely to develop dry eye symptoms.
Other ways to control menopause symptoms include a more natural approach like taking herbal supplements and consuming a diet rich in Vitamin D. Lifestyle changes can also help reduce dry eye symptoms like removing drafts and wearing wraparound sunglasses outdoors.