A new research says that menopausal and perimenopausal women are very likely to have dry eye syndrome. Phyllis E. Greenberger, president and chief executive officer of the Society for Women's Health Research says that the prevalence of dry eye is very high, and growing in Women.
Approximately 3.2 million American women over the age of 50 are affected by chronic dry eye, Greenberger said. "For many women, dry eye is related to the change in hormone levels of menopause," she noted.
Dry eye results from insufficient tear production, excessive tear evaporation, or from the production of toxic tears, which can be caused by inflammation. The condition can be a mild, episodic feeling of discomfort associated with exposure to dry, hot or windy environments. But it can also be a chronic condition that can lead to increased risk of infection or visual impairment. Chronic dry eye can impact the quality of life, interfering with reading, work, using a computer and night driving.
"Dry eye is a part of the aging process for all of us," said Dr. Laurie Barber, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. "Dry eye is a complex and progressive disorder that has many possible causes and contributing factors."
"If not treated, persistent visual problems may haunt the patient and decrease the ability to complete daily activities," Barber said.
Treatments for dry eye are based not only on disease, but also on the cause of the disease. There are three main treatment options — artificial tears, prescription therapies and surgery. One of the latest therapies is a prescription that increases tear production in patients with dry eye resulting from inflammation, Barber said.
"Dry eye can be caused by conditions such as lacrimal gland disease that affects tear production, or conditions that decrease corneal sensation, such as LASIK eye surgery, long-term contact lens wear and diabetes," said Dr. Jeffrey P. Gilbard, of the Department of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. "About half of diabetics have dry eye."
"If you have symptoms of dry eye, you should go to an eye doctor to find out why," Gilbard said.