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Dry, itchy eyes and menopause

Some menopausal women report chronically dry and scratchy eyes, sometimes with light sensitivity, blurred vision, or swollen or reddened eyelids—a condition called chronic dry eye. Because the eye produces more tears to compensate for the eye condition, some women report more tearing. The mechanism by which menopause causes dry eye is unclear, but it does appear that decreased androgens (which women have little of to begin with but also decrease after menopause) reduce tear production. Certain diseases (such as Sjogren's syndrome) or drugs (such as allergy medications and antidepressants) can cause similar symptoms so consult your doctor about what may be the cause in your case.

In mild cases, over-the-counter artificial tear drops or gels can help. Lid scrub pads also are helpful to remove debris and scurf from the eyelid that may cause scratching of the eye itself. Some women report feeling better after using eyelid wipes that contain tea tree or coconut oil. Be sure to choose a product that's hypoallergenic and preservative-free. (Be careful if you're making your own wipes since high concentration tea tree oil can be irritating.) An omega-3 supplement helps some women. And everyone can benefit from being hydrated so drink lots of water. Surgery to plug tear ducts to keep tears in the eye longer or prescription medications (like cyclosporine (Restasis), lifitegrast (Xiidra), or others) may be prescribed for women with more serious cases.

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