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What’s the Link Between Dry Eye and Menopause?

Dry Eye and Menopause 640Around 61% of perimenopausal and menopausal women are affected by dry eye syndrome.

During menopause, the body produces less estrogen, progesterone, and androgen, causing a variety of uncomfortable symptoms such as sweating, insomnia, and hot flashes.

Among these physical symptoms is dry eyes, characterized by dry, itchy and burning eyes.

If you’re experiencing dry eyes, contact StylEyes today for effective and lasting dry eye treatment.

Biological Changes That Affect Your Eyes

During menopause, the androgen hormone decreases, affecting the meibomian and lacrimal glands in the eyelids. The meibomian glands produce the essential oils for the tears, so the reduction in oil results in increased tear evaporation and drier eyes.

When these fluid and oil-producing glands are affected, the eyelids can become inflamed, reducing tear quality and production, resulting in dry eye syndrome.

Some researchers believe that dry eye is connected to changes in estrogen levels. This explains why many women experience dry eye symptoms during certain times of a woman’s monthly cycle, or while taking birth control pills.

Symptoms of dry eye syndrome

  • Red eyes
  • Burning in the eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Gritty feeling in the eyes
  • The feeling something is caught in your eye. Excessive tearing

How Is Hormone-Related Dry Eye Treated?

Because reduced hormones during and after menopause can cause meibomian gland dysfunction, treatment should be focused on reducing dry eye symptoms.

Dry eye treatments can include:

  • Artificial tears
  • Lubricating eye drops
  • Eyelid hygiene
  • Oral antibiotics
  • Corticosteroid eye drops
  • Medications that reduce eyelid inflammation
  • Punctal plugs – to reduce tear flow away from the eyes

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Kristina Wittrock

 

Q: Are there home remedies to treat dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Yes. Here are a few things you can do at home to reduce dry eye symptoms.Limit your screen time. People who work at a computer all day blink less, which harms the tear film. Remember to take frequent breaks and to blink.
    Protect your eyes. Sunglasses that wrap around your face can block dry air and wind.
    Avoid triggers. Irritants like pollen and smoke can make your symptoms more severe.
    Try a humidifier. Keeping the air around you moist may help.
    Eat right. A diet rich in vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids can encourage healthy tear production.
    Warm Compress. A warm compress will improve oil flow through your eyelid glands and clean your eyelids.

Q:Can dry eye syndrome damage your eyes?

  • A: Yes. Without sufficient tears, your eyes are not protected from the outside world, leading to an increased risk of eye infections. Severe dry eye syndrome can lead to abrasions or inflammation on the cornea, the front surface of the eye. This can cause pain, a corneal ulcer, and long-lasting vision problems.Menopause causes many changes throughout your body. If you’re experiencing dry eye symptoms due to hormonal changes, contact StylEyes to find out what dry eye treatments are available to give your eyes relief.


StylEyes serves patients from Des Moines, Indianola Hills, Southwestern Hills, and Pleasant Hill, all throughout Iowa.

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Do You Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 515-416-5505

How Sleep Apnea Affects The Eyes

Did you know that some eye conditions are associated with sleep apnea? According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, and Health Canada reports similar prevalence. It’s a sleep disorder where people stop breathing — often multiple times per night — while sleeping.

If you have sleep apnea: it tends to take longer for your tears to be replenished, you’re more likely to have ocular irritation, you have a higher chance of developing floppy eyelids, and you’re at increased risk for glaucoma.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

There are different types of sleep apnea. The most common one is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). During OSA, your airway becomes partially blocked due to relaxed muscles in your nose and throat. This causes apnea (the absence of breathing) or hypopnea (abnormally shallow, slow breathing). It’s twice as common in men, and is more likely to affect people with obesity, hypertension, diabetes or heart disease.

What are the common symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much to allow normal breathing. These temporary breathing lapses cause lower-quality sleep and affect the body’s oxygen supply, which can lead to potentially serious health consequences.

While snoring is a common symptom, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Interrupted sleep can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, irritability or depression, headaches in the morning, difficulty concentrating and thinking, and a sore throat.

Which Eye Conditions Are Associated With Sleep Apnea?

Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when increased pressure within the eye damages the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, leading to vision loss and sometimes blindness. In some cases, it might be due to a drop in blood oxygen levels, which happens when you stop breathing. However, CPAP machines, one of the most common treatments for sleep apnea, can also cause glaucoma.

So, people with sleep apnea — even if it’s being treated — need to get their eyes checked on a regular basis for glaucoma.

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome (FES) is an eye condition where a person has an unusually large and floppy upper eyelid. It can cause eye redness, irritation, discharge, or blurry vision — and over 90% of people with FES also have sleep apnea.

Non-Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy

Non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) is an eye condition that occurs when there is a loss of blood flow to the optic nerve. Patients typically complain of significant vision loss in one eye without any major pain. Approximately 70-80% of patients with NAION have been found to have OSA.

Retinal Vein Occlusion

Also referred to as an ‘eye stroke,’ retinal vein occlusion (RVO) is a blockage of the small veins that carry blood away from the retina. A recent study of 114 RVO patients found that sleep apnea was suspected in 74% of the patients that had previously been diagnosed with RVO.

Other Eye Health Issues Associated With Sleep Apnea

Some other ocular conditions that are more common in patients with sleep apnea include: papilledema, keratoconus, and central serous chorioretinopathy. Furthermore, in addition to glaucoma mentioned above, CPAP machines are associated with dry eye syndrome and bacterial conjunctivitis.

Talk To Your Doc

Get eye exams regularly to rule out eye disorders and prevent potential vision loss, especially if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. At StylEyes in West Des Moines we encourage you to share your medical history with us so we can better diagnose and treat any eye conditions or ocular diseases you may have, and help you keep your eyes nice and healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Kristina Wittrock

Q: What Causes Sleep Apnea?

  • A: Sleep apnea occurs when in-part or completely stop breathing when sleeping. This causes your lungs to strain harder for oxygen, and makes the brain send signals that jerk your body awake to resume proper breathing.

Q: What are the Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea?

  • A: A common sign of sleep apnea is loud snoring. Snoring that is loud enough to disturb the sleep of the patient as well as others around, even across the walls. That said, not everyone who snores suffers from obstructive sleep apnea.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In West Des Moines, Iowa. Visit StylEyes for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.