Did you know that dry eye disease is twice as common in women than in men? Dr. Ellen Merkin helps her patients affected by dry eye disease, many of whom are women, understand the causes and effects of dry eye disease.
In this blog post, we’ll share the factors that make women more susceptible to dry eye disease and how you can take steps to protect your eyes from its effects.
What is dry eye disease?
First, let’s define what dry eye disease is.
Dry eye is a condition where the eyes don’t produce enough tears or the right quality of tears necessary for comfortable vision. Symptoms include burning, redness, itchiness, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision. Without proper treatment and management, it can lead to corneal damage over time.
One of the most common underlying causes of dry eye is meibomian gland dysfunction. Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) occurs when the glands located in the eyelids become blocked or clogged with wax or oil. This leads to decreased tear production and an increased risk of bacterial infections of the eyes. Symptoms of MGD include dryness, sensitivity to light, redness, and irritation in the eyes. Common causes include age-related changes that slow down tear production; skin disorders that clog up the glands; medications such as birth control pills; contact lenses; allergies; hormonal fluctuations; air pollution; smoking; improper hygiene habits; laser eye surgery; or blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid).
Why are women more prone to dry eye?
There are several factors that may contribute to why women are more likely than men to suffer from dry eye disease.
- Hormonal changes due to pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause can play a role.
- Certain medications like oral contraceptives may increase your risk of developing dry eye disease.
- Hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) can increase the risk of developing dry eye disease.
- Some cosmetics and makeup removers can contain ingredients that irritate the eyes and affect the quality of the tears, leading to symptoms of dry eye.
How can I protect my eyes from dry eye?
While there is no surefire way to prevent dry eye entirely, there are steps that you can take to reduce your risk and ensure that your eyes stay healthy and comfortable in the long run.
- Start by scheduling regular appointments with an optometrist who specializes in treating dry eye so they can diagnose any potential issues early on.
- Make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
- Eat a balanced diet with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon or walnuts which have been shown to reduce inflammation associated with this condition.
- Use a humidifier in your home to increase the amount of moisture in the air.
- If your dry eye disease is due to meibomian gland dysfunction, work with an optometrist to treat the meibomian gland dysfunction to improve the quality of your tears.
Dry eye disease affects millions of people worldwide, but women are especially prone due to their unique physiology and habits, such as wearing certain types of cosmetics and taking certain medications. That said, there are steps you can take today to protect your eyes from dry eye disease, which should include scheduling regular appointments with an optometrist who specializes in treating this condition.
You don’t have to live with the discomfort of dry eye disease! Call Dr. Merkin in Las Vegas today to schedule an appointment to get the care and treatment you need.