April is Women’s Health & Safety Month, and it’s the perfect time to take a closer look at dry eye disease. Dry eye disease is a condition that affects millions of women across the country. It occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears or when the quality of tears is poor.
Women are more likely to develop dry eye disease than men for several reasons. In this blog post, we’ll explore dry eye disease, its symptoms, why it’s more common among women, and treatment options.
Symptoms of dry eye disease
The most obvious symptom of dry eye disease is an overall feeling of discomfort in the eyes—usually accompanied by a “burning” sensation or itching. Other common signs include:
- Light sensitivity
- Blurry vision
- Heavy eyelids
- A feeling of something in the eye (foreign body sensation)
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Watery or teary eyes
- Stringy mucus near the eye
- Difficulty opening your eyes after sleeping
If you experience any of these symptoms regularly, you should see an optometrist for an eye exam.
Why is dry eye disease more common in women?
Women are twice as likely to develop dry eye disease than men. Here are a few reasons why women are especially prone to this condition:
Women experience several hormonal changes throughout their lives, which can affect tear production. For example, during pregnancy, hormonal changes can lead to dryness and discomfort in the eyes. Women may also experience dry eye disease during menopause due to decreased estrogen levels. Estrogen plays a vital role in tear production, so a decrease in estrogen can lead to dry eye symptoms.
Makeup can also contribute to dry eye disease in women. Certain ingredients in makeup, such as preservatives and fragrances, can irritate the eyes and cause dryness. Wearing contact lenses with makeup can also exacerbate the problem by trapping debris and bacteria, leading to inflammation and dryness. Some makeup removers also contain harsh chemicals that can cause tears to evaporate too quickly and negatively affect their quality.
Many oral contraceptives cause dry eyes as a side effect. Taking birth control pills lowers androgen levels in the body, negatively affecting tear production.
Several autoimmune diseases, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, affect women more frequently than men. These diseases can damage the glands responsible for tear production, leading to dryness and discomfort in the eyes.
Treatment options for dry eye disease
Fortunately, there are several treatments available for those suffering from dry eye disease. For mild cases of dry eye, over-the-counter artificial tears can help provide relief from uncomfortable symptoms such as itching and burning. In addition, lifestyle changes such as avoiding smokey environments or taking frequent breaks from staring at screens can also help reduce symptoms of dryness by reducing stress on your eyes.
For more severe cases that don’t respond to artificial tears alone, you should schedule a comprehensive eye exam with a qualified optometrist. Your eye doctor can determine why you are suffering from eye disease and develop a treatment plan to help you get relief.
At Lighthouse Vision, we have the expertise and technology to diagnose and treat dry eye disease. If your dry eye disease is caused by meibomian gland dysfunction, the most common cause of dry eye disease, our eye doctors in Milford can provide a quick, painless in-office treatment called OptiLight by Lumenis. It uses precise, intense broad-spectrum light to address signs of dry eye disease due to meibomian gland dysfunction.
If you are experiencing dryness, discomfort, or inflammation in your eyes, don’t delay in getting the care you need! Schedule an appointment with us today!