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Why Dry Eye Affects More Women Than Men

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Why Dry Eye Affects More Women Than Men

The millions of women suffering from dry eyes can tell you that dry, itchy, watery eyes are no fun. Dry eye syndrome is not just uncomfortable or a nuisance, but can also negatively impact productivity and quality of life. Dry eye tends to develop in those aged 50 and up, and affects more women than men. Below we’ll explain why it’s more prevalent among women than men.

Dry Eye Syndrome and Women

Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a condition characterized by dry, itchy, gritty and burning eyes. It occurs when the eye isn’t properly lubricated, either due to insufficient or poor-quality tears. Healthy tears are made up of a delicate balance of water, oil, and mucous, and any imbalance in this composition can result in dry eyes.

The symptoms of dry-eye can range from mildly uncomfortable to incapacitating and can cause visual disturbances or corneal damage if left untreated. If you think you may have dry eyes, or experience any of the following symptoms, Dr. Kenneth Garza can offer effective long-lasting relief.

Dry-eye symptoms include:

  • Burning or itchy eyes
  • Grittiness
  • Fatigued eyes
  • Eyes that are red and sore
  • Photophobia (light sensitivity)
  • Blurred vision
  • Watery eyes

Why Is Dry Eye More Common Among Women?

woman behind the flowersThe major reason that women are at risk for dry eye is due to the hormonal changes that occur throughout their lifetime. The fluctuation of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone (among other hormones) affects tear quality and production. More specifically, high levels of estrogen and low levels of testosterone both contribute to DES.

Women taking oral contraceptives may also experience dry eyes as a side effect. This is because the reduction in androgen levels due to the pill may impact the amount of tears produced and reduce tear-film stability.

The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can also lead to DES, leading pregnant women to stop wearing eye makeup or contact lenses due to heightened eye sensitivity. Furthermore, morning sickness may contribute to dry eyes as vomiting can cause dehydration, and because the eyes are part of a whole system, a dehydrated body often means dehydrated eyes.

Women who wear eye makeup, such as mascara and eyeliner, have an increased risk of developing dry eye due to irritating ingredients found in these products. It should also be noted that makeup removers often contain oil and harsh chemicals that can thin out the tear film covering the eye, causing the tears to evaporate prematurely.

Though women of all ages have a higher chance of developing dry eye than men do, those over the age of 50 are more susceptible to it.

Post-Menopausal Women and Dry Eyes

An estimated 38% of post-menopausal women in North America use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to manage menopausal symptoms. A common side effect of HRT is dry eye, especially if estrogen alone is administered.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association followed approximately 25,000 women over the course of 4 years to determine the relationship between HRT and dry eye syndrome. The results show that women using HRT with estrogen alone increase their risk of developing dry eye by 69%, and women who use a combination of estrogen and progesterone are 29% more likely to experience dry eye symptoms than women who don’t use HRT at all.

The risks and benefits of HRT should be discussed with a primary caregiver or gynecologist before starting treatment, particularly if there is a history of dry eye or other ocular conditions in the family.

Other medications popularly prescribed to patients over 50 can also contribute to dry eye symptoms, such as diuretics, antidepressants, and beta-blockers.

Fortunately, there are steps that women can take to prevent and/or treat dry eyes.

How Can Women Reduce Their Risk of Developing Dry Eye?

Below are a few practical tips:

  • If you wear eye makeup, don’t apply products on the inner parts of the eyelid in order to avoid irritation.
  • Be sure to remove eye makeup before bed by using a gentle soap or paraben-free makeup remover.
  • If you use a hairdryer, try not to aim it towards the eyes, as this can cause tears to evaporate.
  • Always discuss side effects and eye health history with your primary caregiver before starting any medication.
  • Use a humidifier in your home or place of work to reduce air dryness.
  • Use lubricating eye drops to relieve dry eye symptoms.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Regularly consume foods containing Omega-3s or take an Omega-3 supplement to improve tear quality.
  • Wear protective eyewear such as sunglasses when outdoors in order to block wind and debris from irritating the eye.

If you have any of the mentioned dry eye symptoms, call Complete Family Eye Care today and schedule an appointment with Dr. Kenneth Garza. The optometrist will recommend the most up-to-date dry eye treatments for your eyes and condition.

Our practice serves patients from McKinney, TX and surrounding communities.

REFERENCES

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 972-449-9484
Learn More About Dry Eye
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Meibomian Gland Dysfunction | A Leading Cause of Dry Eye Syndrome

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Woman with Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

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Everything You Need to Know About Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

If your eyes itch, burn, sting, look red, or you have a constant feeling of something being lodged in your eye, you may have a condition called Meibomian (“my-BOH-mee-an”) Gland Dysfunction, or MGD. This condition is the leading cause of Dry Eye Syndrome.

Patients from throughout the McKinney area suffering from Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. If you suffer from any of these symptoms or think you might have MGD, contact the Complete Family Eye Care. Dr. Kenneth Garza can help you with the long-term relief you need.

What is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

Our tears are made up of three components: the lipid (oil) layer, aqueous (water) layer, and the mucus (sticky) layer. These components work in unison to lubricate and coat the eyes, keeping them moist and comfortable.

Your meibomian glands control the lipids in the eye (meibum) which combine with water and mucus in the eye area to create a thin film that consistently lubricates your eyes. Meibum is an essential part of your eye’s makeup as it prevents the evaporation of the eye’s tear film.

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction occurs when the meibomian glands fail to provide enough meibum. This can be triggered by various factors and causes the tear film to evaporate at a quicker rate, leading the eyes to feel dry and uncomfortable.

What Are the Symptoms of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

Depending on your specific case, your symptoms may be mild or severe, quick or long-lasting.

The most common symptoms of MGD include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Burning and dry sensation
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Watery eyes
  • Red, sore and gritty eyes
  • Crusty or sticky eyelids

The increased use of air conditioning or heating systems in the summer and winter months may intensify symptoms. Humid climates, extreme temperatures, and dusty and windy conditions may aggravate eye dryness and itchiness as well.

What are the Causes of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

  • Age: MGD tends to manifest in older people, particularly in women during and after menopause
  • Taking certain medications: particularly retinoic acid (acne treatment), HRT (hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women), antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-androgen medication (used to treat prostatic hypertrophy).
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Pregnancy
  • Wearing contact lenses for an extended period of time.
  • Immune system disorders: atopic rosacea, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren’s syndrome.

Excessive screen time has also been linked to the development of MGD. Staring at a screen on your TV, smartphone, computer or tablet, causes you to blink less frequently. Blinking naturally moisturizes your eyes, and by doing so, clears any small particles that may have accidentally lodged in your eye. Less frequent blinking results in dryer eyes, which can harm the long-term ability of your meibomian glands to function properly.

What are the Solutions for Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

Treatments for Meibomian Gland Dysfunction range from self-administered or practitioner-administered treatments and typically involve a few methods, such as artificial tears, heat application, and manual gland expression. Dr. Kenneth Garza usually suggests applying warm compresses over your eyelids as a first course of action. This gently opens the clogged glands and loosens the oil that may have accumulated. Warm compresses can provide temporary relief.

Further therapies used to manage MGD include omega-3 supplementation, topical antibiotics, oral tetracyclines to reduce the level of pro-inflammatory cytokines, corticosteroids, or topical cyclosporine.

People with MGD commonly purchase over-the-counter eye drops to lubricate their eyes. Unfortunately, these drops tend to provide only transient relief, because, without an adequate layer of Meibomian Gland oil, the liquid from the drops simply evaporate off of the eye. Dr. Kenneth Garza at Complete Family Eye Care can recommend the appropriate eye drops or treatment for your dry eye case to improve your eye comfort levels.

Think You Have MGD? We Can Help

If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms or conditions, then reach out to the Complete Family Eye Care. Based on the degree of your condition, symptoms, and lifestyle, Dr. Kenneth Garza will recommend the best course of treatment for you.

Our practice serves patients from McKinney, TX and surrounding communities.

“I went to the Complete Family Eye Care and everyone there was professional and courteous. Dr. Kenneth Garza did a thorough evaluation and treatment. I’m happy to say that my eyes feel comfortable and my vision is back to how it was before the condition began.”

Jennifer P. Craig, Yen-Heng Chen, Philip R. K. Turnbull; Prospective Trial of Intense Pulsed Light for the Treatment of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2015;56(3):1965-1970. doi: 10.1167/iovs.14-15764.

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 972-449-9484
Learn More About Dry Eye
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