Women and Dry Eye Disease: What You Need to Know

May 1, 2023

Avon Vision Associates 860-677-6444

New Hartford Eye Associates 860-379-7183

Dry eye disease is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. However, women are twice as likely to develop dry eye disease as men. In this blog post, we will share a few reasons why women are more prone to this condition and what they can do to prevent and manage symptoms. 

What is dry eye disease? 

Dry eye disease occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears, or the tears evaporate too quickly. Common symptoms include: 

  • Dryness 
  • Redness 
  • A stinging or burning sensation 
  • Itchiness 
  • Sensitivity to light 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Eye fatigue 
  • A feeling of grittiness or a foreign body sensation in the eye 

Why is dry eye disease more common in women? 

Several factors can contribute to the higher prevalence of dry eye disease among women, including:  

1. Hormonal changes 

One of the main reasons why women are more prone to dry eye disease is hormonal changes that occur during various stages of their lives. For instance, during menopause, estrogen levels decrease, which can lead to decreased tear production and increased inflammation of the eye’s surface. Similarly, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and the use of oral contraceptives can also affect tear production and quality, leading to dry eye symptoms.  

2. Makeup & skincare products 

Women are more likely to use makeup and skincare products, which can contribute to dry eye disease. Certain products, such as eye creams and serums, can irritate the eyelids and tear ducts, leading to decreased tear production. Additionally, makeup products like mascara, eyeliner, and eye shadow can cause blockages in the meibomian glands, which are responsible for producing the oily component of tears. When these glands are blocked, tear evaporation increases, leading to dry eye symptoms. 

3. Autoimmune disorders 

Women are at a higher risk of developing several autoimmune conditions, including those that can cause dry eye symptoms. For example, Sjögren’s syndrome is more common in women than men. This condition causes inflammation in the body as well as symptoms like dry eye and dry mouth.   

How to prevent and manage dry eye disease 

There are several steps that women can take to prevent and manage dry eye disease, including: 

  • Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water can help keep the eyes moist and prevent dryness. 
  • Use lubricating eye drops: Artificial tears can provide temporary relief from dryness and irritation. 
  • Take breaks from digital devices: Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look away from the screen for 20 seconds, and focus on something 20 feet away. 
  • Use a humidifier: Adding moisture to the air can help alleviate dryness caused by heating and air conditioning. 
  • Avoid cosmetics that can irritate the eyes: Choose hypoallergenic and fragrance-free products and remove makeup before going to bed. 
  • Consult an eye doctor: A qualified eye doctor can diagnose dry eye disease and recommend the best treatment, such as prescription eye drops, punctal plugs, or oral medications. During an eye exam, they can use diagnostic technology to determine the specific cause of your dry eye disease. If home remedies and over-the-counter methods aren’t relieving your symptoms, they may recommend specialized in-office treatments or scleral lenses to help alleviate discomfort.   

Dry eye disease can be an irritating and even painful condition. However, by taking preventive measures and getting regular eye exams, women can manage the symptoms and maintain good eye health. If you experience any persistent symptoms of dry eye disease, contact us today for a proper diagnosis and treatment.