The Link Between Hormones and Dry Eye: What Women Need to Know

During menopause, the body experiences reduced estrogen, androgen, and progesterone. More than 60% of women going through menopause and perimenopause suffer from dry eye syndrome. Others deal with hot flashes, sweating, and insomnia. It also causes eye dryness and other physical symptoms. Dry eye syndrome is characterized by itchy, burning, and dry eyes. 


Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome


People who have dry eye syndrome experience various symptoms, including:

  • Red and itchy eyes

  • Burning sensation in the eyes

  • Gritty feeling. 

  • Foreign body sensation

  • Excessive tearing

  • Blurry vision


Hormones and Dry Eye

During menopause, the body produces less androgen hormone, which affects the meibomian and lacrimal glands along the eyelids. These glands produce the oil and fluid that ensures the eyes have a healthy tear film. 

When the glands are affected, it can lead to reduced tear production and poor-quality tears, causing dry eyes. Experts also link dry eye to changes in levels of estrogen. It may also be why some women experience dry eye during their monthly cycle, while pregnant, and when taking birth control.  


How Hormones Affect Eye Function


Every woman goes through menopause differently. While some women experience symptoms that impact their quality of life, others do not have significant issues. Dry eye is a common condition that results from hormone changes. It affects the eye’s ocular surface and tears in various ways. 

Sex hormones are responsible for tear production, evaporation, and drainage. The hormones also help in the healthy maintenance of cornea nerves and corneal epithelial cells. The hormones help maintain the eye’s immune system. 


Hormone Replacement Therapy


Many women going through menopause benefit from hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It can help relieve uncomfortable symptoms. Eye doctors often prescribe hormone therapy to treat vision and eye changes during menopause. HRT restores estrogen levels, reducing the risk of eye disease in some women. However, studies show that some women who get HRT have an increased risk of developing dry eye symptoms.


Treating Hormone-related Dry Eye

Reduced hormone production often causes meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). Treatments that target MGD can help relieve the symptoms of hormone-related dry eye. Treatment options include:

  • Lubricating eye drops

  • Oral antibiotics

  • Punctal plugs

  • Eyelid inflammation medications

  • Corticosteroid eye drops

  • LipiFlow® therapy

  • Intense pulsed light therapy

  • Lid debridement

  • BlephEx®

Warm compresses and cleaning the eyelids regularly can help relieve the symptoms. Keeping the hormones in check can help reduce dry eye during menopause. Failing to treat dry eye can lead to complications such as corneal scarring and vision loss.

Taking care of your eye health can help prevent dry eye syndrome. Eating a healthy diet, taking supplements, and wearing sunglasses outdoors can help. Reducing screen time can also help prevent eye dryness. If you experience eye dryness, visit your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

For more on the link between hormones and dry eye and what women need to know, visit Houston Dry Eye Clinic at our Houston, Texas, office. Call (713) 664-4760 to schedule an appointment today.