Women More Likely to Develop Dry Eyes than Men. Here’s Why
Dry eyes are no fun, as anyone who suffers from this condition will tell you. The itching, watering, burning, and other symptoms can put a severe damper on your day. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it can have a significant negative impact on your productivity and overall quality of life. Dry eyes are more common in people over the age of 50, although people of all ages can experience this issue. Dry eyes are also more common in women than men.
Dry eye symptoms
Dry eye syndrome occurs when either the tear quality, quantity or both are compromised. This may happen because your eyes fail to produce enough tears, or it may happen because the tears your eyes do produce are low-quality and evaporating too quickly. Healthy tears compose a delicate balance of water, mucous, and oil, and any imbalance can lead to dry eyes.
The symptoms of dry eye syndrome can range from mild to incapacitating. Left untreated, this condition can eventually lead to permanent damage to your vision or cornea. Symptoms may include:
- Itching or burning eyes
- A feeling of grittiness
- Tired eyes
- Red, sore eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurry vision
- Watery eyes
Why is dry eye syndrome more common in women?
Dry eye syndrome is more likely to affect women because of the hormonal changes that can occur throughout a woman’s life. The fluctuation of estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone can directly affect tear production and quality. For example, low testosterone levels and high estrogen levels can both play a role in the development of dry eyes.
Furthermore, women who take oral contraceptives may also be more likely to experience dry eyes as a side effect. That’s because birth control pills cause a reduction in androgen levels, which may lead to fewer tears being produced as well as less tear-film stability.
Pregnancy is another situation in which women may experience dry eyes. Some women find that they need to temporarily stop wearing contact lenses or eye makeup while pregnant due to increased eye sensitivity. Morning sickness can also cause dehydration, which can play a role in dry eyes as well.
Menopause and dry eyes
Past the age of 50, women are twice as likely to experience dry eye syndrome as men. One reason may be that many women opt to use hormone replacement therapy to manage menopause symptoms. Especially if the woman receives estrogen alone, a common side effect of HRT is dry eyes. Using a combination of estrogen and progesterone may lower the likelihood of developing dry eyes somewhat. You should discuss the risks and benefits of HRT with your primary caregiver to determine if it’s right for you. Be sure to tell your provider if you have a history of dry eye syndrome or any particular ocular conditions run in your family. The same is true for other medications commonly prescribed to patients over 50, such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, and diuretics.
What you can do to reduce the symptoms of dry eyes
If you are experiencing dry eyes and the discomfort they can cause, here are a few steps you can take to find relief.
- Stay hydrated
- Use a humidifier in your home or office
- Always remove eye makeup before bed with a gentle makeup remover
- Wear sunglasses outdoors to help protect eyes from debris and wind
- Make an appointment with your eye doctor for further treatment and management
We can help you get relief from dry eye symptoms so that you can get back to enjoying your life. At MCLI, we offer a range of dry eye treatments designed to address the underlying cause of your dry eyes and correct the problem to restore your comfort and protect your vision. Contact us today to learn more.