Why is it harder to drive at night? 8 warning signs of painful eye syndrome
Normally, glands above your eyes make tears that keep your eyes wet.
Dryness in the eye occurs when the eyes don’t make enough tears to stay wet, or when tears don’t work properly.
Previous studies have described dry eye syndrome as “a multifactorial disease of the tears and ocular surface that results in symptoms of discomfort, visual disturbance, and tear film instability with potential damage to the ocular surface”.
This causes symptoms such as burning, a foreign body sensation and decreased vision, which can affect your daily living.
Causes of dry eye syndrome
There are a number of causes and conditions that will increase dryness in the eye.
Occasionally, there is a lack of balance in the tear-flow system or it could be due to certain medications.
The cause can often be down to something as simple as being exposed to too much air conditioning or heating, which dries out the tear film.
Diseases known to affect the eyes include Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis or collagen vascular disease.
Symptoms of dry eye syndrome
Signs you may have the condition include:
A stinging, burning or scratchy sensation in your eyes
Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
Sensitivity to light
A sensation of having something in your eyes
Difficulty wearing contact lenses
Difficulty with night-time driving
Watery eyes, which is the body’s response to the irritation of dry eyes.
Menopause and perimenopause
Approximately 61% of perimenopausal and menopausal women are affected by dry eyes, according to Dr Russel Lazarus.
He explained: “During menopause, the body produces less androgen, oestrogen and progesterone, causing a variety of uncomfortable symptoms — hot flashes, sweating, insomnia, and even depression.
“Among these physical symptoms, menopause can also cause dry eyes.”
Postmenopausal women also have higher incidence of dry eye syndrome.
Large-scale studies from the United States have shown that the rate of dry eye disease in women over 50 years old is nearly double that in men over 50, at 7% and 4%, respectively.
According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine: “In menopause-related dry eye, role of hormonal therapy has been investigated and may play a potential role in treatment.”
According to the National Eye Institute, ways to reduce your dry eyes include:
Try to avoid smoke, wind, and air conditioning
Use a humidifier to keep the air in your home from getting too dry
Limit screen time and take breaks from staring at screens
Wear wraparound sunglasses when you’re outside
Drink plenty of water — aim for eight to 10 glasses every day
Get enough sleep — about seven to eight hours a night.