Vision and eye health can change during perimenopause and menopause, along with just about every other system in the body. While it can feel overwhelming, we’ve got some additional...ahem, insights so you’ll know what you may expect that could be attributed to this major transition.
If you are having eyesight problems during your transition, a Gennev menopause-certified gynecologist can give you a trusted opinion, determine if medication is right for you, and they can provide prescription support. Book an appointment with a doctor here.
Here’s the caveat (and the gift): not every person will experience every symptom in menopause. So, keep these on your radar, but don’t panic.
Major hormone fluctuations can temporarily blur your vision. If you’ve ever been pregnant, you may have experienced this already due to hormonal change. While it’s surprising, and not safe if you’re driving, blurry vision does tend to go away once your hormone levels even out. It’s the same, and different, with menopause because sex hormone levels aren’t really “evening out” for long… they are continually decreasing.
Estrogen can give more elasticity to the corneas in your eyes. In menopause and perimenopause, when estrogen levels are reduced, the corneas aren’t getting as much estrogen and the corneas can begin to stiffen which can affect how light travels into your eyes.
A change in light refraction, plus the corneas being less elastic (causing dryness), can cause blurred vision. These can also contribute to contact lens discomfort if you wear those.
Dry eyes in menopause, it’s a thing, a pretty aggravating thing. Symptoms may include itchiness, a burning sensation, eye pain, certainly dryness, mucus discharge from the eye, and it may even feel like there’s a foreign body actually on your eyeball.
More news is that women are at an increased risk for developing DES as we age. But before you grab a bottle of drops and call it good, consider what else may be driving any dry eye symptoms you are having. If your vision is changing or you’re experiencing eye pain or any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your optometrist to get your eyes tested and screened, then look below for tips to find some relief.
Women taking hormone replacement therapies (HRT) are actually at more risk for dry eye when taking estrogen-only HRT. Those on progesterone or progestin plus estrogen hormone replacement therapies have less risk, but they are still at more risk than those not taking HRT.
Blurred vision is also a potential symptom of cataract development in menopause. While cataract development is not attributed to menopause, it’s a good idea to check for them during your annual eye exams as they develop slowly over time. They aren’t painful, and usually develop due to aging or injury, but they can definitely, and ultimately, impair your vision. If you have diabetes or other eye conditions, you may be at higher risk for developing cataracts.
A cataract is a clouding on the lens of your eye, making it hard to see, read, and drive. Additional symptoms of cataract development are:
At first, stronger prescription lenses and better or brighter lighting may be advised to treat cataracts. Any of these symptoms warrant a visit and possible screening with your eye doctor.
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that contribute to damage of the optic nerve, usually from increased pressure in either or both eyes.
CBD medical marijuana, as well as other prescribed medications, are often used to treat glaucoma, as there is no cure for the disease. Untreated, glaucoma can permanently damage your vision and even lead to blindness. Another vote for early detection with tests and regular screenings, for sure.
Unattributed to menopause, but still in the realm of impaired vision, age-related macular degeneration is another condition to regularly test and screen for with your eye doc. This is different from glaucoma in that AMD usually affects the center of the field of vision due to damage to the retina, whereas glaucoma affects the side field of vision. AMD also appears in “dry” and “wet” forms, and similar to glaucoma, it can lead to vision impairment and blindness.
It won’t hurt to talk with your regular doctor (or one of ours) about your vision symptoms for a referral to a specialist. And don’t forget to mention stress levels, screen time, and other menopause or perimenopausal symptoms you’re experiencing. Help and support available in your corner.
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