What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome is a common occurrence in menopause and aging. It is important to be able to understand the symptoms and treatment options for this condition. Dry eye syndrome, if untreated, can have serious effects on one of the most important aspects of a woman’s overall health, her vision. With proper treatment, most women will be able to enjoy optimal vision with little or no discomfort. Dry eye syndrome is caused by eyelid inflammation, lacrimal gland dysfunction, medications and possibly changes in sex hormones due to menopause or hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
The tear film is very important to maintaining healthy eyes. The lacrimal gland, the goblet cells and the meibomian glands all produce a different component of the tear film. The lacrimal gland is located in the upper eyelid and is the key organ in tear production. The goblet cells are located in the conjunctiva, which is the white part of the eye. The meibomian glands are located throughout the eyelids. Tears drain through the punctum, a small hole in the upper and lower eyelid, to the nose. This is why a person’s nose drains (runs) when he or she cries. Without an adequate tear film, dry eye syndrome can occur. This syndrome can cause discomfort as well as damage to the eye and loss of vision. Dry eye syndrome may result from one or more of the following factors: inadequate tear production, increased tear evaporation and poor-quality tears. Typical symptoms of dry eye syndrome include eye pain, foreign-body sensation, burning, blurred vision, light sensitivity and tearing. These symptoms can occur in varying degrees. Some people may experience mild eye irritation and others can experience severe eye pain and disruption of their lives. Dry eye syndrome occurs more commonly in women, especially postmenopausal women.
Dry eyes after menopause
Many older Americans have dry eyes that can range from mild to severe. And if you are 50 or older and female, your chance of developing a more severe form of dry eye syndrome is even higher.Studies show that about 7.8 percent of women and about 4.7 percent of men in this older age group develop significantly dry eyes.Women who have undergone menopause may experience disrupted chemical signals that help maintain a stable tear film. Resulting inflammation also can lead to decreased tear production and dry eye.Some theories indicate that a decline in the hormone androgen could be an underlying cause of dry eye in older women.
What can you do if you are older and develop dry eyes?
While levels of the female hormone estrogen also decrease following menopause, studies have not shown any beneficial effect of estrogen hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in relieving dry eye.If you are over 40 and have been diagnosed with dry eye, you may want to avoid laser vision correction surgery. Procedures such as LASIK and PRK can permanently affect nerve function of your eye’s clear surface (cornea) and worsen dry eye problems. If you choose to have a refractive surgery consultation, be sure to tell your examining eye doctor about your dry eye condition. Your doctor can perform special tests to determine if your eyes are moist enough for laser vision correction. If you already have been diagnosed with dry eyes, make sure you are being treated appropriately for other conditions associated with both aging and dry eye, such as rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid autoimmune disease. Also, keep in mind that many medications required by adults over age 40 may cause or worsen dry eye problems. Examples include diuretics (often prescribed for heart conditions) and antidepressants.
Multifocal contact lenses
Bifocal and multifocal lenses are options for people who want to transition from bifocal or multifocal glasses to contacts. These types of contact lenses are great for people with active lifestyles who do not want to be chained to their reading glasses. There are many different types of bifocal andmultifocal lenses available on the market that correct different types of vision disorders.
Occupational Bifocals and Trifocals
Occupational bifocals and trifocals are special multifocal lenses that are designed for specific jobs or hobbies, but typically are not for everyday wear. They are special because of the unusual placement of the near, intermediate and far vision zones in the lenses, to make certain tasks easier. When you develop presbyopia at around age 40, you lose the ability to focus properly at multiple distances. This means you may have special needs for eyewear that can help you see better if your job or hobby requires you to look overhead or read fine print all day.