What Causes Dry Eyes During Menopause?

You better watch out as Menopause may leave you feeling dry somewhere other than where you expected: your eyes! Dry eye syndrome is not widely recognised as a symptom of menopause, but about 61 percent of perimenopausal and menopausal women suffer from dry, itchy eyes!

According to the Society for Women’s Health Research only 16 percent of women realise that menopause is to blame. Many women going through menopause experience dry eye syndrome or exacerbation of their pre-existing symptoms, says Dr. Sol Shaftel, M.D., Ph.D., an ophthalmologist and ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery fellow at the University of Washington.

Environmental factors can have a drying effect on your eyes, causing your tears to evaporate. These include:

  • Sun
  • Wind
  • Dry Climate
  • Hot Blowing Air
  • High Altitude

Certain activities can also contribute to dry eye syndrome, such as:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Working On A Computer

People tend to blink less frequently during activities that require visual concentration. This means the tear film evaporates or drains away more quickly than it’s replenished. Several medicines are thought to cause dry eye syndrome as a side effect in some people, including:

  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Beta-blockers
  • Diuretics

Some people who have had certain types of laser eye surgery find they have dry eye syndrome in the weeks after surgery. The symptoms usually clear up after a few months, but in some cases may continue. Sometimes contact lenses irritate the eye and cause dry eye syndrome.

Changing to a different type of lens or limiting how often you use your contact lenses usually helps resolve the symptoms, or you can try changing cleaning solutions or using preservative-free lubricant eye drops.

menopausal symptoms dry eyes

Several over-the-counter (OTC) medications are available to treat chronic dry eye symptoms. In most cases, artificial tears will be enough to ease your situation. When choosing among the many OTC eye drops on the market, keep in mind that:

  • Drops with preservatives can irritate your eyes if you use them too much.
  • Drops without preservatives are safe to use more than four times per day. They come in single-serving droppers.
  • Lubricating ointments and gels provide a long-lasting thick coating, but they can cloud your vision.
  • Drops that reduce redness can be irritating if used too often.

Your doctor may prescribe different types of medication depending on your condition:

  • Drugs to reduce eyelid inflammation. Swelling around the edge of your eyelids can keep necessary oils from mixing with your tears. Your doctor may recommend oral antibiotics to counter this.
  • Drugs to reduce cornea inflammation. Inflammation on the surface of your eyes can be treated with prescription eye drops. Your doctor may suggest drops that contain the immune-suppressing medication cyclosporine (Restasis) or corticosteroids.
  • Eye inserts. If artificial tears aren’t working, you can try a tiny insert between your eyelid and eyeball that slowly releases a lubricating substance throughout the day.
  • Drugs that stimulate tears. Drugs called cholinergics (pilocarpine [Salagen], cevimeline [Evoxac]) help increase tear production. They are available as a pill, gel, or eye drop.
  • Drugs made from your own blood. If you have severe dry eye that isn’t responding to other treatments, eye drops can be made from your own blood.
  • Special contact lenses. Special contact lenses can help by trapping moisture and protecting your eyes from irritation.
Dry eyes during menopause is a common menopausal symptoms