Eyes are the window to our well being.
Eye watering facts
We have all been touched by the pandemic in one way or another and our eyes have been no exception. Around nearly a third of adults have seen deterioration in their eyesight since the start of Covid 19, but surprisingly many haven’t been to the opticians to have them checked.
In fact, last year a staggering 58% of adults did not have an eye test, and around 34% said they had not had their eyes tested since the start of the pandemic. Eye tests are not only vital for maintaining good vision, so much more can be gleamed from a thorough eye test. Opticians can help to identify more general emerging health problems, such as heart disease, glaucoma, age related macula degeneration and diabetes. Diagnosis and early intervention promotes a far better outcome for us all.
Hormonal changes and the menopause
It is not only general health conditions that can have a substantial effect on our eyes. For example, just as hormonal changes during pregnancy can have an impact on eye health, the decline in the level of the hormones oestrogen and androgen during the menopause can also cause symptoms such as dry eyes and changes in vision.
Dry eye disease or Dry eye syndrome, is a condition that occurs when the eyes do not make enough tears, or the tears evaporate too quickly. This is the most common symptom of the menopause, with chronically dry eyes resulting in scratchy, swollen and inflamed eyes to the point where eye lids can become sore. Severe cases can sometimes be accompanied by blurred vision and sensitivity to light. On the flip side, during the menopause there are other women who may find the complete opposite – that their eyes are producing too many tears as the glands called Meibomian glands can become blocked or depleted and cant release enough natural oils to mix with the tears and the tears simply evaporate resulting in watery eyes.
Fluctuating hormones caused by the menopause can also affect eye pressure, meaning that being able to see distances and the ability to focus especially driving at night decreases. It is also possible due to the increased pressure that eyes may change shape causing contact lenses to become uncomfortable and that eyes can become more tired, affecting their ability to focus. Menopausal women also have a tendency to have a high build-up of intraocular pressure, which is a cause of glaucoma. But, as we age eye health can change naturally for both men and women making us more susceptible to cataracts or glaucoma for eaxample. In women though, this makes deciphering which is a symptom of the menopause and which is a symptom of growing older more difficult to identify.
How can we help maintain eye health caused by menopausal changes?
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help improve eyesight from the age of 50+. By healthy lifestyle we mean getting a healthy diet of fresh vegetables and either eating fish with a high omega 3 content, or taking an omega 3 supplement. Drinking plenty of water and taking part in regular exercise, outdoors wherever possible can also help alleviate the effects of the menopause on eyes. We don’t necessarily mean running marathons, we simply mean moving more a few times a week in whatever way suits your body.
Pharmacy shelves are full of various eye drops that can help dry eye sufferers by in effect providing artificial tears which can temporarily relive symptoms or you could try massaging your eye lids or applying a warm compresses. Many opticians now have dry eye clinics as they recognise the growing condition is now more prevalent than ever before and can provide good advice based on the type of dry eye you may be suffering from and not only treat the symptoms but are able to assess the likely cause and provide the appropriate necessary treatment plan.
What is agreed by Optometrists globally is that the best way of maintaining healthy eyes, improving vision and maximising the chances of spotting any emerging health problems – during the menopause or otherwise – is to simply have regular eye tests with your optician.
Tim Baker, Group CEO BIB Group Holdings
BIB Ophthalmic Instruments