The hormonal changes that occur during menopause can do a number on your body, including your eyes. More than 3 million women over age 50—and some 62 percent of women experiencing menopause or perimenopause—are plagued by dry-eye symptoms: a stinging, burning or gritty sensation in the eyes. Sufferers can also develop blurred vision, sensitivity to light or eye fatigue.
Chronically and excessively dry eyes can be prone to infection and vision loss. If you suffer from dry eyes, see your healthcare provider. He or she will want to rule out any medicines you’re taking, like antihistamines, that can contribute to dry eyes; infection; an underlying medical condition, like a thyroid disorder; or a lid abnormality that interferes with blinking.
Don’t let menopause blindside you. Try these tips to relieve dry eyes:
- Tear it up. Try using an over-the-counter artificial tear product. But if you need to use the eye drops more than three times a day, see an eye professional. He or she can prescribe medicine that increases tear production.
- Spare the air. Direct blow-dryers, fans and car heaters away from your eyes. Outside, wear wraparound-style sunglasses to protect against wind exposure.
- Increase the humidity. Keep your home’s humidity at 30 percent to 50 percent year round. Use a humidifier to add moisture to dry indoor air.
- Blink, blink, blink. Blinking is Mother Nature’s way of coating the eye with soothing tears. Be conscious of blinking regularly.
- Eat fish. Recent research suggests that foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and tuna, can help fight inflammation and increase tear production.
- Protect your eyes. Avoid activities that cause eyestrain, such as long sessions on the computer. Wear protective glasses on windy days.