Pregnancy, the menstrual cycle and perimenopause all cause hormonal shifts. The hormonal changes that occur during menopause can cause eye changes in some cases, sometimes requiring you to get new eyeglasses or contacts. If you are experiencing trouble with your vision or eye discomfort, make sure to contact a specialist immediately.
Keep reading to learn how menopause can affect your eyes and vision.
Menopause: What Is It and Why It Occurs
Menopause typically affects women in their late 40s or early 50s. It is a normal stage of life when your period stops permanently. However, if you have your ovaries surgically removed, you will go through sudden surgical menopause. Using hormonal birth control or an overactive may also cause your period to stop.
Your menstrual cycle starts functioning in your puberty and naturally slows down as you get older. When you are reaching menopause, your ovaries may produce less estrogen, a hormone essential in maintaining your reproductive system. Estrogen is also vital to good bone health and cardiovascular function.
In the months leading to menopause, you may experience significant changes in your monthly cycles and hot flashes. This stage is called menopausal transition or perimenopause. It typically starts between the ages of 45 and 55 and can last for a number of years. The duration of your menopausal transition may be affected by your lifestyle, race and ethnicity.
Menopausal transition affects every woman differently. Your body starts utilizing energy differently, you may be more prone to weight gain and your fat cells may change. You may also see changes in your heart or bone health, physical function and body shape and composition. Another part of your body that can change during this stage is your eyes.
Eye Problems to Watch Out For During Menopause
Your eyes may go through various changes at the time of your menopause. For instance, the shape of your eyes may become a bit different, meaning you may need to get new contact lenses. You may also need to start wearing corrective lenses for reading. Here are some of the most common eye problems that you need to watch out for after menopause.
Dry eye syndrome can occur if your eyes are not producing enough quality tears to keep them lubricated and nourished. Some women say that after menopause, they experience chronically dry and scratchy eyes. This condition can also cause blurred vision, light sensitivity, increased tearing and eyelid swelling or redness.
Chronic dry eye syndrome is more likely to occur in places where the air is dryer. It can also develop in people with certain medical conditions. Sometimes, allergy medications and antidepressants can also cause dry eye. Fortunately, there are various treatment options for this eye condition. Today, a wide range of polymers, gels and solutions can bring back the quality and quantity of tears your eyes produce. In some cases, your eye specialist may recommend using tear duct plugs to maintain healthy tear volume. Then there is a medication called “topical cyclosporine A,” which helps reduce eye inflammation that can lead to dry eye.
A leading cause of blindness in individuals over the age of 60, glaucoma refers to a group of eye conditions that impairs the optic nerve. This condition is usually the result of excessively high eye pressure. While it is more common in older adults, it can occur at any age. Glaucoma is often asymptomatic in the early stages, making it even more important to see your eye doctor regularly.
As you age, your risk of developing glaucoma increases. Routine eye exams are essential in the early detection and treatment of this eye condition. Keep in mind that glaucoma-related vision loss can’t be restored. Early treatment can help delay the progression of glaucoma and delay vision loss.
The lens of your eye is naturally clear, but it will start clouding if you have cataracts. This eye condition develops over time and can affect one or both eyes. Fortunately, your eye doctor can remove cataracts surgically, and many patients experience restored vision following the procedure.
People typically start developing cataracts after the age 40. However, it may take years for you to notice the symptoms. Your risk of developing cataracts increases if you are a smoker, live in a place with air pollution or drink alcohol excessively. This eye condition can also be hereditary.
Your estrogen levels may fluctuate during your perimenopausal stage, which can affect your period. Your menstruation can become heavier or your cycle may become shorter. These changes in your body can also affect your eyes. You may experience really watery eyes, especially when you are outside and it’s sunny or windy. Don’t worry because it’s just your eyes’ way of protecting themselves.
Eye Care Tips for Women During Menopause
See Your Eye Doctor Regularly
Having regular comprehensive eye exams is critical. Your eye doctor will perform a series of tests to determine the state of your eye health. They will check the inside of your eye, its movement and pressure. If you wear eyeglasses, you may notice that your vision changes faster than it used to. Depending on your risk of developing certain eye conditions, your specialist may ask you to visit them more frequently.
Maintain Healthy Hormone Levels
Estrogen is not only essential to your reproductive health but also your overall wellbeing. It helps prevent memory loss, reduces the risk of nerve damage and improves collagen in your skin. This hormone aids in good bone, heart, and liver health. Your estrogen levels may fall as you reach menopause.
Your eye doctor may recommend taking supplements if your estrogen levels are dangerously low. Eating a healthy diet can also help promote healthy hormone levels. Include nuts, whole grains and dark, leafy greens in your diet, along with fruits like berries, apples and plums. Flaxseeds and green tea are also great sources of phytoestrogens.
Drink Plenty of Water
It’s easier to get dehydrated during your peri-menopausal and menopausal stages. If you are dehydrated, your risk of developing dry eye and high eye pressure increases. Make sure to drink at least 1.5 liters of water every day.
Take Better Care of Your Eyes
As you get older, you need to focus more on your eye health. Even minor changes in your daily routine can do wonders in improving your overall eye health. For instance, if you work on a computer most of the day, it will help to take breaks from time to time to let your eyes rest. One thing you can do to prevent digital eye strain is to follow the 20-20-20 rule, which involves looking 20 feet away from your screen for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
Considering using a humidifier if you live in a dry area. It may also help to wear eyeglasses instead of contacts to prevent dry eye syndrome from worsening. When going outside, be sure to wear UV-blocking sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. They should protect your eyes against the sun’s harmful rays, harsh winds and dust.