Emerging Eye Concerns at Menopause

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: May 26, 2010

Your tear production tends to decrease as you get older. When you’re unable to produce enough tears, the clear tissue that covers the opening of your eye (cornea), or parts of it, begin to dry out. As a result, your eyes become easily irritated, and you may begin to suffer from symptoms of “dry eye.” The medical term for this condition is keratoconjunctivitis sicca (ker-uh-to-kun-junk-ti-VIE-tis sik-uh).

Symptoms of dry eyes may include:

  • A stinging, burning or scratchy sensation in your eyes
  • A sense of a foreign substance in your eyes
  • Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
  • Increased eye irritation from smoke or wind
  • Eye fatigue after short periods of reading
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses

Dry Eye and Menopause

According to reported data, more than 3 million American women suffer from dry eyes, with the condition affecting women two to three times more than men. Many women may not know that dry eyes are a frequent symptom of menopause.

The hormone changes associated with menopause may be responsible for this decrease in tear production and abnormal tear function. Normal aging, the use of certain medications, medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Scleroderma and Sjogren’s syndrome, chemical burns or eyelid deformities also may cause dry eye.

Why Tear Production is Important

Tears protect your eyes and lubricate them, and are an essential part of clear, comfortable vision. Tears reduce the risk of eye infection and, with each blink of the eyelids, help clear your eyes of any debris. When your eyes become irritated from dust or are bothered by wind, smoke or fumes, extra tears form to help wash away the foreign material.

However, dry eyes caused by decreased production of fluids from your tear glands can prevent tears from performing their useful functions and affect your vision. An imbalance in the substances that make up tears also can make your eyes become dry.

The most common treatment for dry eye is use of an artificial tear supplement. There also are new studies underway for the treatment of dry eye. In fact, approximately 20 renowned medical research facilities across the country are seeking volunteers to participate in a parallel-group, placebo-controlled study to explore the relief and effectiveness of Elidel® (pimecrolimus ophthalmic suspension), an investigational product for the treatment of dry eye.

About the Trial

Women may be able to participate in the trial if they meet the following criteria:

  • Are 18 and older
  • Have significant signs and symptoms of the condition
  • Have used tear substitutes at any time for a duration of at least 3 months
  • Are postmenopausal or using a reliable mechanical or hormonal form of contraception

Benefits of participation in the trial may include:

  • An improved understanding about your dry eye condition and how to better manage it
  • Helping people by expanding medical knowledge
  • Free study related eye exams and study medication
  • Compensation for your time

Elidel® (pimecrolimus ophthalmic suspension), made by Novartis, Inc., is currently being studied for the treatment of dry eye. Women who are interested in learning more about the Elidel clinical studies are encouraged to visit www.dryeyeclinicalstudy.com to learn more about participating in this important research.