Vision loss is one of the numerous age-related health issues that affect many people as they get older. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, menstruation, perimenopause, and menopause may cause a variety of ocular problems. 

Meanwhile, menopause is a condition associated with various eye conditions. This is because the female body produces less estrogen and progesterone hormones. If you’re in menopause and experiencing vision issues, you should visit a qualified doctor to explain how they’re affected for a precise diagnosis.

Consequently, the doctor will advise you on medical options and the best medications to enhance your eyesight during and after menopause. The following are vision issues that can be experienced during menopause:

1. Dry Eyes

Research suggests that about 61% of menopausal women suffer from dry eyes. This is due to less estrogen, progesterone, and androgen production. Low levels of these hormones also lead to other symptoms like sweating, hot flashes, insomnia, and depression.

During menopause, the low production of the hormone androgen affects the lacrimal and meibomian glands in the eyelids. Lacrimal glands help release fluids that clean and protect the eye’s surface by moistening and lubricating it. 

Meanwhile, meibomian glands help produce proteins and lipids that constitute the upper layer of the tear. Furthermore, it also protects tears from evaporation. Your meibomian glands are also responsible for producing fluid and oil for your eyes. 

On the other hand, when the production of androgen declines, tear production might decrease or the eyelids can become irritated, resulting in dry eyes. Generally, dry eyes are caused by an eye’s inability to produce tears that are both thick and lubricated. 

Some studies suggest that dry eyes are also linked to changes in estrogen levels. This explains why dry eye symptoms increase during pregnancy, menstruation period, and while using birth control pills. 

The symptoms of dry eyes include itchy, red, and burning eyes, blurred vision, excessive tearing, or foreign body sensation. Apart from menopause, other common causes of dry eyes include computer use, laser surgery, wind exposure, aging, and vitamin A deficiency. 

To avoid this, the doctor can suggest various treatment options for dry eyes. Among the treatment options is hormonal replacement therapy, which helps restore estrogen. As mentioned earlier, low hormone levels can affect your meibomian and lacrimal glands. 

In addition, treatment can be focused on providing what these glands generate. This can include using lubricating eye drops, eyelid hygiene, oral antibiotics, warm compressors, corticosteroid eye drops, and taking fish oil supplements until the tear film is healthy again.

2. Glaucoma

The cornea, which lacks blood vessels, is nourished by fluid produced by glands in the eye. This fluid helps maintain the eye’s healthy pressure. If the eyes suffer from excessive internal pressure, glaucoma is more prone to developing. 

Consequently, glaucoma may result in complete blindness, if left untreated. Meanwhile, glaucoma can be classified as either closed-angle or open-angle. It indicates whether or not the drainage area between the cornea and iris is open, closed, or narrow. 

In open-angle glaucoma, the drainage space between the cornea and the iris remains open. However, the meshwork is slightly blocked, causing pressure to increase in the eye. On the other hand, closed-angle glaucoma is caused by a narrowing or closing of the drainage angle of the eye. As a result, pressure builds up in the eye, causing damage to the optic nerve. 

On the other hand, several studies published in the National Library of Medicine show that reduced estrogen levels associated with menopause can cause both open-angle and closed-angle glaucoma. The studies also found that restoring estrogen hormone levels affect the pathogens that cause glaucoma.

Symptoms of glaucoma are red eyes, eye pain, nausea and vomiting, headache above the eyebrow, blurred vision, and rainbow colors around lights. When diagnosed early, glaucoma can be managed and treated. Eye drops, surgery, or laser treatment are all options for treating open-angle glaucoma, while surgery or laser treatment is required for treating closed-angle glaucoma. 

3. Cataracts

A study published in the National Library of Medicine says that about 24.5 million Americans over the age of 40 have cataracts. Women are more affected by cataracts, constituting about 61% of that figure. This is because fluctuating estrogen levels contribute to eye damage during menopause. 

Cataracts are the clouding of the normally transparent natural lens of the eye. The lens becomes cloudier and yellower during menopause, resulting in blurred or hazy vision. Cataracts may also be induced by diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, overexposure to radiation, obesity, eye damage, or a family history of cataracts, in addition to menopause. 

Cataract symptoms include blurred, dim, or clouded vision, sensitivity to light, rainbow colors around a light, yellowish or fading colors, elevated difficulty with vision at night, frequently changing eyeglasses, double vision with a single eye, and diminished contrast among colors. 

If you notice any of these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately. Cataracts are treated by surgical procedures that restore normal eyesight. 

4. Macular Degeneration

This eye disease affects the macula, which is the core region of the light-sensitive retina. Studies suggest that this condition affects more than 10 million Americans and is among the major causes of vision loss. Macular degeneration can be stopped and prevented when detected on time. Otherwise, it’s incurable.

A study involving 4,400 menopausal women aimed to research the relationship between reproductive factors and macular degeneration found that a prolonged duration of lactation protected women against macular degeneration. At the same time, prolonged use of contraceptives or birth control pills was linked with an increased risk of macular degeneration.

There are two types of macular degeneration: dry macular and wet macular. Dry macular degeneration is when drusen (fatty deposits believed to result from deteriorating tissues) form on the macula. Wet macular degeneration, on the other hand, occurs when there’s a disruption of oxygen supply to the macular, causing the body to grow new abnormal blood vessels.

Macular degeneration symptoms include blurry or fuzzy vision, straight lines appearing wavy, and difficulty recognizing familiar people. It also includes a dark or blind spot in the center of the vision, as well as loss of central vision, which is required for reading, driving, and performing daily tasks.

The Bottom Line

Menopause can lead to different eye problems. If you identify any of the above signs and symptoms, visit your doctor for an eye exam. A check-up will help identify these conditions, and the doctor will recommend the best treatment methods to avoid further eye damage.