26 Sep 2022

Dry Eyes: The unexpected symptom of perimenopause and menopause

Up to 60% of menopausal women experience 'dry eye', a very uncomfortable condition which includes some nasty symptoms such as itchy, crusty, watery, eyes that burn, plus blurred vision.

Some perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms get a lot of airtime, but it’s fair to say that 'Dry Eye' isn't yet one of them.

Beauty Daily delves into the best remedies, solutions, and eye-opening products to help ease your symptoms.

The very first signs of perimenopause and menopause can often be found in one’s eye health.

Its cause? Many assume that 'dry eye' is part and parcel of the general loss of moisture that everyone’s body experiences during the ageing process.

But in fact, it’s down to the many hormonal changes that you go through during perimenopause and menopause, affecting the fluid coating of your eye and your ability to produce tears of sufficient quality and quantity.

According to Professor Sim, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Co-Founder of MTHK,

"During menopause, the oils that keep your eyes nourished and moisturised turn from olive oil, silky smoothness to a sticky toothpaste-like consistency. This leads to scratching and inflammation as your eyeballs move around their sockets."

Three predominant glands in our eyes produce liquid, oil, and mucus. They all play a vital role in our eye health, and our hormones influence all.

During this time of hormonal upheaval, these glands can stop working consistently. Our tears could become saltier, or our oil glands might begin over-producing: it's all a recipe for very irritated eyes.

And this is far more than just a temporary irritation; studies have shown that 'Dry Eye' can significantly affect your quality of life. Plus, once the unwanted symptoms are felt, it becomes harder to restore equilibrium. Prevention is better than cure. 

Related article: 34 symptoms of perimenopause and menopause - symptom checker

How to safeguard your eyes as you mature

Having a preventative approach is vital when it comes to protecting the health of your eyes as you age—Don sunglasses with UV protection on bright days to protect from the ravages of the sun. Get regular eye tests.

Dr Sim recommends once you've reached the age of 40, you make a yearly appointment with your optometrist to check on your eye health and catch any issues earlier rather than later.

Take a break from wearing contact lenses and get into good habits when moisturising your eyes.

Post-shower, as you would slather your body in a nourishing and hydrating cream, reach for moisturising eye drops morning and night.

Keep them close to your computer or television so you’re reminded to use them regularly and shop for formulas that contain hyaluronic acid or liposomes.

Use a thicker consistency at night before you turn out the lights.

Stress is another important factor as it affects inflammation in the body and can exacerbate the symptoms of 'dry eye'.

So, take stock of your daily stresses and worries; is there anything you can do to alleviate these patterns long-term?

It’s also important to stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep to reduce the risk of developing the condition.

And while dry eyes are caused by hormonal upheaval, there is no concrete evidence that HRT does or doesn't help soothe the situation, so better to look to ways of improving your general wellbeing and health to help safeguard your eyes.

What you should avoid

We all know that glaring at a computer screen isn’t fantastic for our peepers, so try reducing screen time whenever you can.

Lower your computer screen as this will mean your eyes are less open as you work, meaning they’re less affected by the glare.

Artificial air in planes or air conditioning can dry your eyes, and while these things are sometimes unavoidable, taking the time to take extra care of your eyes if you’re a frequent flyer will help.

Embrace a humid environment in the home, and be wary of dust, as it is an irritant.

Products to instantly soothe

There are products out there that can help make 'Dry Eyes' feel instantly more comfortable.

You can easily pick up lubricating eye drops at the chemist, and MTHK’s Eye Drops are preservative-free and promise 4 hours of much-needed relief.

If you’re fearful of putting drops directly into your eye, close your eye, tilt your head back, place one drop into the corner of your eye, and blink. If you are still reluctant, try MTHK’s Eye Spray instead for an intense moisture hit that will also refresh the surrounding skin.

Taking a warm shower or bath or holding a moist flannel to the eye area can help break down any hardened fluid that has built up.

Optase Moist Heat Mask absorbs moisture from the air to release a consistent moist heat to soothe symptoms. Invest in an eye-friendly skincare routine and reach for an intensely hydrating eye cream, such as Clarins Total Eye Lift, and a gentle makeup remover, such as Clarins Gentle Eye Make-up Remover with soothing Aloe Vera, to avoid irritating the area further.

If you are struggling, of course, seek the help of your doctor. They may be able to recommend scleral contact lenses, which will help protect your cornea.

Should over-the-counter medication be unable to cut the mustard, there are prescribed treatments that can help, including immunomodulatory eye drops, which reduce inflammation in the eyes, or steroid eye drops, which can help prevent inflammation from being triggered in the first place.

How to adapt your beauty routine

While it may seem counterintuitive, watery eyes are often caused by dry eyes.

This is because eyes that are very dry attempt to produce lots of tears to alleviate the condition. However, because the tears produced don't contain the right balance of ingredients, so eyes become irritated.

The result? More tears, which can wreak havoc for makeup wearers.

To prevent dreaded smudges and smears, there are some products and techniques you can slot into your routine.

For example, avoid placing eyeliner in your lower waterline, as this can trigger tear glands. And retire tubing mascaras or fibrous versions, as the flakes of fibre they contain to bulk up lashes can fall into your eye and irritate.

Also, ensure your favourite mascara stays put with Clarins newest launch - a waterproof topcoat Lash & Brow Double Fix Mascara to seal your handiwork down for up to 12 hours.

And don't forget to nix any expired makeup products from your beauty cabinet, and lastly? Always ensure your brushes are clean.

How nutrition plays a role in dry eyes

Good eye health starts on the inside, and Dr Sim recommends a diet rich in "Omega-3 and 6, such as oily fish, leafy greens, and walnuts, to help support the oil glands in your eyes".

Research has shown that eating a diet low in Vitamin A can also increase your risk of experiencing Dry Eye, so stock up on liver, carrots, and broccoli at the supermarket.

In addition, lutein and Zeaxanthin (found in egg yolks) are great nutrients to be on the lookout for, and vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc should also be on your shopping list.

How to keep your eyes looking young 

It’s a fact of life that our eyes - like our bodies - change as we mature.

Signs can be seen in our eyes, and they may look puffier, sink back or look yellower due to years of exposure to elements such as UV light and wind.

To remedy this, apply a rich eye cream day and night, invest in a facial massager to boost circulation, and help with skin elasticity.

The award-winning Double Serum Eye by Clarins is rich yet light -and in just 7 days, it can intensely nourish, smooth, firm, depuff and visibly reduce dark circles.

At night, maybe swap this out for plant-based retinol – like Clarins Total Eye Lift, it has over 2k 5-star reviews, targets lines restores density and brightens.   

As we age, the veins underneath our eyes can become more prominent as our skin thins. To combat this, try placing something cool, like cucumber slices or a cooling eye mask, on the area each morning to shrink the veins and their appearance.   

A light touch of concealer might also help, but that's a whole different story...

For more information, visit: www.clarins.co.uk

This article is part of a paid partnership with Clarins

Clarins is the headline sponsor for this year's The Midlife Festival.

To book your free place visit The Midlife Festival

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