By: Guest Author
Published: April 13, 2021
Written by Dr. Aaron Winstead- Guest Contributor
Menopause impacts a woman’s entire body, including the eyes. Yet, with all the other changes occurring, the eyes often go unchecked until major issues arise. April is Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month making it the perfect time to focus on eye care before, during and after menopause.
Why Menopause Influences Eye Health
Hormones affect eyes and vision throughout a woman’s life. The hormonal shifts from birth control, pregnancy and menopause lead to changes in the eyes. While some eye issues resolve over time, others cause lasting effects.
Especially during menopause, when aging also influences eye health, women need to regularly check in with their eye doctors. Monitoring and addressing eye conditions early offers preventative treatments and care solutions. Stay on top of your total body health!
How Often Should Women Visit Their Eye Doctor?
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, all adults should schedule a complete eye exam at age 40. This provides a baseline of eye health. Plus, you can address emerging problems and manage the progression.
After age 65, it’s best to schedule an annual eye exam. A deterioration in eye health usually continues and increases as we age, especially for untreated eye conditions. Intervention helps preserve vision and maintain health.
What Common Eye Issues Occur After Menopause?
The hormonal shifts of menopause become the catalyst for a few conditions. However, aging also impacts eye health. The combination of factors highlights the value of quality and trusted eye care. Accurate diagnosis and case management matters to your health.
Dry Eye Disease
Dry eye disease (DED) is one of the most common eye conditions during menopause and for postmenopausal women. In fact, men over age 50 are half as likely to experience DED. The hormonal shifts as women age alter how the eye’s tear film and ocular surface work. The result is discomfort, inflammation, poor vision and other unwanted symptoms.
Thankfully, a knowledgeable eye care professional can offer effective treatments and solutions after the proper diagnosis of DED. Treatment options include medications, eye therapies and prescription eyewear.
Most people associate cataracts with aging. While true, research shows the drop of estrogen levels during menopause also influences the development of cataracts. Patients commonly describe cataracts as creating cloudy vision. A breakdown in protein on the eye’s natural lenses leads to cataracts and vision loss. For most people, cataracts develop slowly over time. However, for patients with certain health issues, like diabetes, cataracts may change quickly.
Regular eye exams matter for patients with cataracts. Your doctor monitors the progress of the condition and helps you decide the right time to act. The most frequent treatment is surgery to remove the affected lens and replace it with an artificial lens.
Glaucoma is an eye disease also associated with aging. This disease damages the optic nerves in the eyes. Research shows that the loss of estrogen during menopause speeds up damage to the optic nerve. By understanding and addressing the loss of estrogen, women can seek early treatment for glaucoma.
Glaucoma leads to blindness if left untreated. Early detection helps improve the efficacy of the treatment options which include medication and surgery. Due to the major impact of glaucoma, it’s vital to manage the symptoms under the guidance of an eye doctor specializing in geriatric eye care.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Both men and women deal with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It is the number one cause of vision loss in people over age 50. During menopause when many changes occur in a woman’s body, don’t assume your vision loss is simply AMD. You want to rule out other, more serious conditions.
Currently, AMD doesn’t have a cure. Doctors often recommend a combination of supplements. For one form of AMD, a prescription medication helps reduce the number of blood cells in the retina for relief. Over time, our vision fades. However, understanding the cause and risk of vision loss provides valuable insight to manage and treat the issue.
Tips for Improved Eye Health During Menopause
During every stage of menopause, it’s important to stay on top of eye health. With proactive steps, we become empowered to positively influence our health, including our eyes. Start by noticing the changes and addressing them. Don’t assume you have to live with unwanted eye symptoms.
- Schedule Annual Eye Exams – Don’t wait until you have a noticeable problem. Visit your eye doctor annually for an eye exam to track the progression of your vision. Keep a list of any symptoms to discuss at your appointment.
- Act Quickly When You Have a Problem – You do not need to wait until your annual eye exam to see your doctor. If you notice a new issue, like cloudiness, dry eyes, pain or vision loss, contact your doctor immediately. Early intervention works to prevent additional damage to your vision or eyes.
- Eat Well – What we eat impacts our health. This is especially true for patients with other health issues, like diabetes. Eat foods that positively influence health. Reduce the consumption of sugar and alcohol and increase your intake of fruits and vegetables.
- Stop Smoking – Smoking is disastrous for our eyes. If you are a smoker, find support to help you quit. While it’s challenging to stop smoking, the benefits for your health are worth it.
- Limit Screen Time – Take a break from screens. We live in a technology-driven world, but our eyes need a break. Schedule regular time away from screens to let your eyes rest.
- Visit Your Medical Doctor – If you experience changes in your eye health, check in with your OBGYN or primary care physician. You want to know if you have new health conditions, like high blood pressure, that link to symptoms in the eyes.
Information is Power
Become informed about how menopause links to changes in vision. Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month is a great time to focus on your eyes. Feel your best so you can maintain your quality of life during and after menopause.
Today, women have options to stay on top of your health. This includes maintaining and restoring your eye health. Find relief and comfort with effective eye treatment.
This article is contributed by: Dr. Aaron Winstead, founder of LoHi Eyecare in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Winstead is passionate about educating the public about the importance of eye health and providing quality eye care.
The views expressed herein this article, written by a guest contributor, do not necessarily represent those of the Red Hot Mamas organization. The content is for informational purposes and should not substitute the advice of your doctor.