Going through menopause can be a frustrating time of life but a phase that every woman will at one-time or another experience.
Although you have probably heard all about hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, headaches, and all the various symptoms associated with the change of life, you might not have heard about menopause and contact lenses.
If you have headed into peri-menopause, the initial years when the level of estrogen produced will begin to decrease, and if you wear contact lenses, you might begin to notice that your eyes no longer feel comfortable.
The primarily problem has to do with dryness, which can be corrected.
Menopause and Contact Lenses – Finding Relief
As you will discover in this article, menopause and contact lenses is an issue women across the globe deal with but you do not have to suffer in silence. Rather than assume everything is fine, if you are going through menopause and wear contact lenses, you should start by bringing the problem to your doctor’s attention so he or she can examine your eyes.
Some menopausal women will begin to experience a scratchy feeling and notice a slight discharge but ignoring these symptoms could be dangerous.
Obviously, these symptoms could be the beginning of a problem but you need to take steps to rule in and rule out things. For example, if your contacts do not fit correctly, you could experience trouble. If you are not cleaning your contacts properly and a lipid or protein deposit builds up, this too could create a problem.
In addition, if you drink alcohol or caffeine, you could be having trouble with dry eyes. Even some over the counter or prescription medications can cause problems with the eyes. In other words, while menopause could be the problem with your contact lenses, you want to make sure it is not something else first.
Once everything else has been dismissed, you would then consider menopause and contact lenses, as being the problem. The truth is that many women do report changes in how their contacts feel once they start into menopause. During this time, it is common to experience both dryness and tearing, again because of reduction in estrogen.
However, other problems you might experience include swollen eyelids, decreased visual acuity, problems with visual coordination, and foreign body sensation. Through studies, doctors have identified that both a decrease and increase in estrogen levels do in fact have an affect on the eye.
As you probably know, menopause is a time when estrogen begins to fall, typically occurring between the ages of 45 and 52. During this time, you need to remember that symptoms vary from one woman to another, as does the severity of those symptoms. Therefore, while you might have issues with menopause and contact lenses, another woman may not. Okay, so what can you do?
If it has been determined that nothing else is going on, you can start by purchasing artificial tears at your local pharmacy or grocery store. These “tears” help relieve dryness of the eyes, thus providing you with some relief from the discomfort. The important thing is that not all brands of artificial tears are compatible with every brand of contact lens. Therefore, find out from your lens’ manufacturer the type of tears you can use.
Another way to gain relief from discomfort of menopause and wearing contact lenses is to get the right nutrients so the body produces more tears. Things like omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in salmon and other types of fish, along with flaxseed oil, are excellent options.
With this, the oily part of your tear composition will improve, which helps stop tear evaporation. If the problem is serious, then you may need to have a punctal occlusion, which is when a small piece of acrylic or silicone called a “punctal plug” is inserted in the tear duct to help stop tear drainage, thus leading to moister eyes.
Then, when it comes to problems with menopause and contact lenses, you will find that some lenses are actually designed specifically for people with dry eyes. In this case, talk to your eye care professional to determine if a different type of contact would be better for your eyes, especially while going through the change of life.
This might include going with daily disposables so you begin each day with a new set of contacts, lower water lenses that have much higher water content than other types of contacts, or silicone hydrogels, which are new lenses that actually allow more oxygen to reach the eyes.
Next, correcting the problem of menopause and contact lenses could be as simple as changing the type of care product you use. Although you might save some money by going with an off-brand or universal product, you should always use the products specified by your doctor and designed for the type of contacts you wear. In addition to making your eyes far more comfortable, your vision will be clearer and crisper.
Remember, millions of people deal with “dry eye syndrome”, especially women going through the change of life. In fact, doctors now say that as much as one in five people have this problem to some degree.
As mentioned, with hormonal change, the problem becomes more of a concern for menopausal women. With this, both quality and quantity of tears falls below what would be considered an acceptable level. The result is pain and if not treated ulceration or scarring of the cornea could occur.
Therefore, if you have a problem of menopause and contact lenses, you should be checked right away and make the appropriate changes to protect the health of your eyes.