Did you know that women are more likely than men to experience symptoms of dry eye syndrome (DES)? In fact, women represent about 6 out of 10 diagnosed cases of DES worldwide. This is due to several factors, 3 of which we'll outline below.
If you aren’t familiar with DES, this eye condition refers to a chronic lack of ocular moisture that causes uncomfortable symptoms like red, burning, itchy, watery eyes. Left untreated, DES can damage the cornea.
Usually, DES is caused by insufficient tears or poor quality tears, but can also be precipitated by allergies, environmental factors, hormones and even certain medications. If you or anyone in your family suffers from DES, speak with Dr. Nathalie Cassis at Dry Eye Center at Envision Ghent Optometry, who can help ease your dry eye symptoms
3 Reasons Why Women Are Prone to Dry Eye Syndrome
1. Cosmetic Use
Makeup, skincare items, and hair styling products can all drastically effect onyour eyes. Women who wear makeup—especially eye makeup like mascara and eyeliner—are more likely to develop dry eye symptoms due to their sometimes irritating contents. Makeup and other cosmetics may include chemicals that, when in contact with the eye, can reduce the eye’s tear film and cause tears to evaporate too quickly.
Eyeliner and mascara may also block the tiny oil-secreting glands on the margins of the eyelids. Oil is an essential component of tears, as it reduces eye-eyelid friction and lessens tear evaporation.
We aren’t telling you to ditch your glam kit and go au naturel, but when you do wear makeup, make sure to give your eyes some extra TLC. Try to avoid applying makeup to the inner portion of the lash line, where it can clog your oil glands or irritate your eyes. And make sure to thoroughly remove your eye makeup before going to sleep, as sleeping with eye makeup can also lead to eye irritation and even infection.
2. Hormonal Changes
From puberty to pregnancy and menopause, women’s hormones are constantly changing. All those surges and dips in estrogen can affect your eyes, especially when it comes to dry eye syndrome. Some women even experience dry eyes at certain times of the month, when estrogen levels rise.
Women also produce androgens, also known as “male hormones,” which affect the quality of the tear film. In fact, both men and women who have low androgens may suffer from DES.
Women over the age of 50 who take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are at a heightened risk of developing dry eye symptoms. About 4 out of 10 post-menopausal women in North America use HRT to manage symptoms of menopause. Women increase their chances of developing DES by 70% when using estrogen alone for HRT, and by 29% when estrogen and progesterone are used together, compared to women who don’t use HRT.
3. Certain Medications
Because women are more likely than men to take both prescription and over-the-counter medications, they are also more prone to experience adverse effects from those medications. The common medications that often cause or exacerbate symptoms of DES include:
- Acne medications
- Sleeping pills
- Birth control pills
- Blood pressure medications
DES can be uncomfortable at the very least, and debilitating at its worst. The good news is that you can get the relief you seek! At Dry Eye Center at Envision Ghent Optometry, we provide long-lasting relief to patients suffering from dry eye syndrome by targeting the root of the problem.
If you or a loved one is suffering from dry eyes, call Dry Eye Center at Envision Ghent Optometry today.
Dry Eye Center at Envision Ghent Optometry provides dry eye relief to patients from Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, and throughout Virginia.
Frequently Asked Questions with Our Dry Eye Doctor in Norfolk
- A: While there are over-the-counter options available at your local drugstore, you should seek treatment from a dry eye optometrist for the most effective and long-lasting results. Generic dry eye remedies may not target the underlying source of your specific problem.
- A: Women with moderate-to-severe DES may find conventional makeup irritating. Try choosing makeup that is hypoallergenic, cream-based (instead of powder), and has a low water content. Thorough makeup removal is crucial for everyone— all the more so for those suffering from DES. So make sure you remove every bit of eyeliner, eyeshadow, and mascara before bed.