VISION CHANGES AND EYE HEALTH

Vision changes in women in Surgical Menopause are common due to fluctuating and declining levels of hormones in the body.  As with many other symptoms, the cause of eye disease in postmenopausal women in Surgical Menopause is related to hormones and the body's lack of them. While many are treatable with Hormone Replacement Therapy, there are four main eye issues and diseases that are common in postmenopausal women in Surgical Menopause. They are: dry eyes, cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.

 

Your eye shape may also change as hormone levels go up and down after ovaries are removed often resulting in the need to have an updated eye prescription or a correction in the fit of your current contact lenses to make them more comfortable.

Dry Eyes

 

A frequent eye related issue that women may run into in Surgical Menopause is dry eyes.  Following surgery, and before HRT levels are within a healthy range, many women in Surgical Menopause report chronically dry, itchy eyes, sometimes with light sensitivity, blurred vision, increased tearing and swollen red eyelids. This is a condition referred to as Chronic Dry Eye Syndrome. 

 

Dry eyes are most readily a symptom of low estrogen in the body as well as falling androgen levels  (testosterone is the most common androgen). The role of Androgens in eye health is that they regulate the production of the salty solution of the watery middle layer of your tear film and the outer oily layer of the tear film. The lower levels of testosterone brought on by Surgical Menopause causes a lack of the salty solution and protective oil in the tear film. This results in dry eyes.

 

Thus to treat this problem, in addition to raising your estrogen and androgen levels using HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy), your eye doctor may elect to put you on a course of eye drops in order to lubricate your eyes and provide relief until estrogen and androgen levels are more robust.  There are a variety of gels, polymers and solutions now available for treating dry eyes in postmenopausal women. A prescription medication that may also be effective in reducing inflammation in the eye that may contribute to dry eye is “topical cyclosporine A”.  For women unable to take HRT the regular use of prescription eye drops, solutions, polymers or gels can be a great help for those suffering from chronic dry eye syndrome or simply dry eyes.

 

Cataracts

The issue of Cataracts, which is the clouding of the lens of the eye is significantly higher in postmenopausal women and women Surgical Menopause. Symptoms typically develop slowly and painlessly over time. Indicators of cataracts are cloudy vision, glare sensitivity, double vision, difficulty seeing at night, seeing “halos” around lights, and a loss of color intensity.  Cataracts at the front of the eye lens are of less of a risk when healthy levels of estrogen are maintained through HRT use, while Cataracts at the back of the lens do not seem to be affected by the inclusion of HRT.

 

Glaucoma

 

Glaucoma is yet another ocular condition that is brought on by hormone loss as well as aging of the eyes. Glaucoma is considered to be a condition that causes damage to your optic nerve and gets worse over time. Some symptoms of Glaucoma include severe eye and head pain, blurred and hazy vision, nausea or vomiting, sudden loss of sight, the appearance of rainbow colored circles around bright lights.

 

Macular Degeneration

 

Macular degeneration is a condition in which one’s center area of vision deteriorates and is common affliction of the elderly. While this condition may present itself in postmenopausal women in Surgical Menopause it does not, that we know of, respond to  treatment of estrogen and hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

 

Treatment

 

The simple treatment for eye related issues brought on by Surgical Menopause is twofold. One, maintain healthy hormone levels with the use of HRT (hormone replacement therapy). And two, have your eyes examined once a year to stay ahead of any changes that develop so you may treat them appropriately and in time to prevent their worsening.

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