Did you know that women are more likely than men to experience symptoms of dry eye syndrome (DES)? In fact, women represent about 6 out of 10 diagnosed cases of DES worldwide. This is due to several factors, including the 3 we explain below.
If you aren’t familiar with DES, it is characterized by a chronic lack of ocular moisture. Some symptoms of DES are red, burning, itchy, watery eyes, which can range from mild to severe. Left untreated, it can damage the cornea.
Usually, DES is caused by insufficient tears or poor quality tears, but can also be precipitated by allergies, environmental factors, and certain medications. If you or anyone in your family suffers from DES, speak with Dr. Marianne Hopkins of The Dry Eye Centre at Dr. Hopkins & Associates Optometry. We can help ease any symptoms
3 Reasons Why Women Are Prone to Dry Eye Syndrome
1. Cosmetic Use
Makeup, skincare items, and hair styling products can all have drastic effects on your eyes. Women who wear makeup — especially eye makeup like mascara and eyeliner — are more likely to develop dry eye symptoms due to their sometimes irritating contents. Makeup and other cosmetics may include chemicals that, when they come in contact with the eye, can reduce the eye’s tear film and cause tears to evaporate too quickly.
Eyeliner and mascara may also block the tiny oil-secreting glands on the margins of the eyelids. Oil is an essential component of tears; it reduces eye-eyelid friction and also lessens tear evaporation.
We aren’t telling you to ditch your glam kit and go au naturel, but when you do wear makeup, make sure to give your eyes some extra TLC. Try to avoid applying makeup to the inner portion of the lash line, where it can clog your oil glands or irritate your eyes. Always thoroughly remove your eye makeup before going to sleep — sleeping with eye makeup can also lead to eye irritation and even infection.
2. Hormonal Changes
From puberty to pregnancy to menopause, women’s hormones are constantly changing. The surges and dips in estrogen can affect your eyes, especially when it comes to dry eye syndrome. Some women experience dry eyes at certain times of the month, when estrogen levels rise.
Women also produce androgens, also known as “male hormones,” which affect the quality of the tear film. Both men and women who have low androgens may suffer from DES.
Women over the age of 50 who take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are at a heightened risk of developing dry eye symptoms. About 4 out of 10 post-menopausal women in North America use HRT to manage symptoms of menopause. When estrogen alone is used for HRT, women increase their chances of developing DES by about 70% and 29% when estrogen and progesterone are used together, compared to women who don’t use HRT.
3. Certain Medications
Because women are more likely than men to take both prescription and over-the-counter medications, they are also more likely to experience adverse effects from those medications. Several medications can cause or exacerbate symptoms of DES. They include:
- Acne medications
- Sleeping pills
- Birth control pills
- Blood pressure medications
DES can be uncomfortable at the very least, and debilitating at its worst. The good news is that we can help. At The Dry Eye Centre at Dr. Hopkins & Associates Optometry, we provide long-lasting relief to patients suffering from dry eye syndrome by targeting the root cause of the problem.
If you or a loved one is suffering from dry eyes, call The Dry Eye Centre at Dr. Hopkins & Associates Optometry today.
The Dry Eye Centre at Dr. Hopkins & Associates Optometry provides dry eye relief to patients from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls, Welland , St. Catharine, and throughout Ontario.