Dry eye disproportionately affects women, and they are diagnosed at a younger age and have more extreme symptoms compared to men.
While dry eye (also known as dry eye syndrome) is an increasingly common ailment, especially among people aged 50 and up, women are observed to suffer from it more often than men. The obvious question, of course, is why.
Women’s hormone levels fluctuate throughout their lives, for a number of reasons. These hormonal changes have been shown to make dry eye more likely, as the fluctuations of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, along with other hormones, impact tear production and quality. In particular, high estrogen levels and low testosterone levels contribute to dry eye syndrome.
In particular, some things which impact hormones are likely to also impact dry eye symptoms:
Women who regularly wear eye makeup such as mascara or eyeliner, have a higher risk of developing dry eye. This is due to the ingredients found in these products which can irritate the eyes. Additionally, makeup removers often contain oils and chemicals which can thin the tear film covering the eyes, which causes tears to evaporate early.
While women remain at higher risk for developing dry eye, there are some things they can do to reduce that risk:
Dry eye syndrome, a common ailment particularly prevalent among individuals over 50, affects women more frequently than men due to numerous factors. Hormonal fluctuations, specifically changes in estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels, significantly impact tear production and quality. High estrogen and low testosterone levels, in particular, exacerbate the condition. Dry eye symptoms can vary due to different stages in women's lives, such as during their monthly cycle, pregnancy, menopause, or while taking oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Regular use of eye makeup and makeup removers containing irritants and chemicals can also lead to dry eye. Despite their heightened risk, women can mitigate the symptoms of dry eye by implementing various strategies. These include the careful removal of makeup, staying hydrated, using lubricating eye drops, maintaining a well-humidified environment, protecting eyes outdoors, and consuming Omega-3-rich foods or supplements.