Are you a woman over 50? Do your eyes feel really dry all the time? Dry eyes are a common problem in more mature women, so you're not alone. Here's what you need to know about this problem.
Why it happens
Menopause wreaks havoc on your hormones, but it causes more than just night sweats and hot flashes. It also dries out your eyes. Why does this happen? You have less estrogen in your body now than you did when you were younger. Estrogen increases the amount of tears you produce, while testosterone decreases the amount.
Dry eye may sound simple, but there are actually a lot of different symptoms. You might feel a stinging or burning sensation in your eye, or you might feel like something is stuck in your eye, even though there's nothing there. Excessively watery eyes can even be a symptom of dry eyes, which sounds crazy, but your eyes make more tears to try to counteract the dryness.
Long term effects
Dry eyes aren't a big deal, right? Wrong! Dry eyes are more than just an inconvenience; your eyes can be damaged by this condition. Your cornea (the outer layer of your eye) is really sensitive, so if it isn't well lubricated by tears, it can get damaged. This damage can lead to scarring, which can hurt your vision, or even lead to vision loss.
What to do about it
There are lots of things you can do to relieve your symptoms. Some of your daily habits could be making your symptoms worse, like working on the computer and wearing contact lenses. If you need to work on the computer, take frequent breaks to give your eyes a rest, and try wearing glasses, instead of contact lenses.
Eye drops will also help, though this is only a temporary fix. Your eyes will keep drying out, and you'll need to keep using more eye drops. Your optometrist may give you a gel or ointment to moisten your eyes if the eye drops aren't working well enough. There are also prescription medications that cause your eyes to make more tears. Make an appointment with your optometrist right away to discuss the various treatment options that you have.
Dry eyes are annoying, but they can also be dangerous. Your dry eyes can cause harm to your vision, so you need to deal with the problem right away.