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3 Reasons Women Are More Likely Than Men To Develop Dry Eye

3 Reasons Women Are More Likely Than Men To Develop Dry Eye 640Did you know that women are more likely than men to experience symptoms of dry eye syndrome (DES)? In fact, women represent about 6 out of 10 diagnosed cases of DES worldwide. This is due to several factors, 3 of which we’ll outline below.

If you aren’t familiar with DES, this eye condition refers to a chronic lack of ocular moisture that causes uncomfortable symptoms like red, burning, itchy, watery eyes. Left untreated, DES can damage the cornea.

Usually, DES is caused by insufficient tears or poor quality tears, but can also be precipitated by allergies, environmental factors, hormones and even certain medications. If you or anyone in your family suffers from DES, speak with Dr. Fuerst or Dr. Gittins at Dry Eye Center at EYEcenter Optometric, who can help ease your dry eye symptoms

3 Reasons Why Women Are Prone to Dry Eye Syndrome

1. Cosmetic Use

Makeup, skincare items, and hair styling products can all drastically effect onyour eyes. Women who wear makeup—especially eye makeup like mascara and eyeliner—are more likely to develop dry eye symptoms due to their sometimes irritating contents. Makeup and other cosmetics may include chemicals that, when in contact with the eye, can reduce the eye’s tear film and cause tears to evaporate too quickly.

Eyeliner and mascara may also block the tiny oil-secreting glands on the margins of the eyelids. Oil is an essential component of tears, as it reduces eye-eyelid friction and lessens tear evaporation.

We aren’t telling you to ditch your glam kit and go au naturel, but when you do wear makeup, make sure to give your eyes some extra TLC. Try to avoid applying makeup to the inner portion of the lash line, where it can clog your oil glands or irritate your eyes. And make sure to thoroughly remove your eye makeup before going to sleep, as sleeping with eye makeup can also lead to eye irritation and even infection.

2. Hormonal Changes

From puberty to pregnancy and menopause, women’s hormones are constantly changing. All those surges and dips in estrogen can affect your eyes, especially when it comes to dry eye syndrome. Some women even experience dry eyes at certain times of the month, when estrogen levels rise.

Women also produce androgens, also known as “male hormones,” which affect the quality of the tear film. In fact, both men and women who have low androgens may suffer from DES.

Women over the age of 50 who take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are at a heightened risk of developing dry eye symptoms. About 4 out of 10 post-menopausal women in North America use HRT to manage symptoms of menopause. Women increase their chances of developing DES by 70% when using estrogen alone for HRT, and by 29% when estrogen and progesterone are used together, compared to women who don’t use HRT.

3. Certain Medications

Because women are more likely than men to take both prescription and over-the-counter medications, they are also more prone to experience adverse effects from those medications. The common medications that often cause or exacerbate symptoms of DES include:

  • Antihistamines
  • Corticosteroids
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Acne medications
  • Sleeping pills
  • Birth control pills
  • Blood pressure medications

DES can be uncomfortable at the very least, and debilitating at its worst. The good news is that you can get the relief you seek! At Dry Eye Center at EYEcenter Optometric, we provide long-lasting relief to patients suffering from dry eye syndrome by targeting the root of the problem.

If you or a loved one is suffering from dry eyes, call Dry Eye Center at EYEcenter Optometric today.

Dry Eye Center at EYEcenter Optometric provides dry eye relief to patients from Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, Elk Grove, and throughout California .

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Our Dry Eye Doctor in Sacramento

Q: Can I treat my dry eye symptoms at home?

  • A: While there are over-the-counter options available at your local drugstore, you should seek treatment from a dry eye optometrist for the most effective and long-lasting results. Generic dry eye remedies may not target the underlying source of your specific problem.

Q: Can women with dry eye syndrome still wear eye makeup?

  • A: Women with moderate-to-severe DES may find conventional makeup irritating. Try choosing makeup that is hypoallergenic, cream-based (instead of powder), and has a low water content. Thorough makeup removal is crucial for everyone— all the more so for those suffering from DES. So make sure you remove every bit of eyeliner, eyeshadow, and mascara before bed.


 

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How Sleep Apnea Affects The Eyes

Did you know that some eye conditions are associated with sleep apnea? According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, and Health Canada reports similar prevalence. It’s a sleep disorder where people stop breathing — often multiple times per night — while sleeping.

If you have sleep apnea: it tends to take longer for your tears to be replenished, you’re more likely to have ocular irritation, you have a higher chance of developing floppy eyelids, and you’re at increased risk for glaucoma.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

There are different types of sleep apnea. The most common one is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). During OSA, your airway becomes partially blocked due to relaxed muscles in your nose and throat. This causes apnea (the absence of breathing) or hypopnea (abnormally shallow, slow breathing). It’s twice as common in men, and is more likely to affect people with obesity, hypertension, diabetes or heart disease.

What are the common symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much to allow normal breathing. These temporary breathing lapses cause lower-quality sleep and affect the body’s oxygen supply, which can lead to potentially serious health consequences.

While snoring is a common symptom, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Interrupted sleep can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, irritability or depression, headaches in the morning, difficulty concentrating and thinking, and a sore throat.

Which Eye Conditions Are Associated With Sleep Apnea?

Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when increased pressure within the eye damages the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, leading to vision loss and sometimes blindness. In some cases, it might be due to a drop in blood oxygen levels, which happens when you stop breathing. However, CPAP machines, one of the most common treatments for sleep apnea, can also cause glaucoma.

So, people with sleep apnea — even if it’s being treated — need to get their eyes checked on a regular basis for glaucoma.

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome (FES) is an eye condition where a person has an unusually large and floppy upper eyelid. It can cause eye redness, irritation, discharge, or blurry vision — and over 90% of people with FES also have sleep apnea.

Non-Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy

Non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) is an eye condition that occurs when there is a loss of blood flow to the optic nerve. Patients typically complain of significant vision loss in one eye without any major pain. Approximately 70-80% of patients with NAION have been found to have OSA.

Retinal Vein Occlusion

Also referred to as an ‘eye stroke,’ retinal vein occlusion (RVO) is a blockage of the small veins that carry blood away from the retina. A recent study of 114 RVO patients found that sleep apnea was suspected in 74% of the patients that had previously been diagnosed with RVO.

Other Eye Health Issues Associated With Sleep Apnea

Some other ocular conditions that are more common in patients with sleep apnea include: papilledema, keratoconus, and central serous chorioretinopathy. Furthermore, in addition to glaucoma mentioned above, CPAP machines are associated with dry eye syndrome and bacterial conjunctivitis.

Talk To Your Doc

Get eye exams regularly to rule out eye disorders and prevent potential vision loss, especially if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. At EYEcenter Optometric in Citrus Heights we encourage you to share your medical history with us so we can better diagnose and treat any eye conditions or ocular diseases you may have, and help you keep your eyes nice and healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Palmer N. Lee

Q: What Causes Sleep Apnea?

  • A: Sleep apnea occurs when in-part or completely stop breathing when sleeping. This causes your lungs to strain harder for oxygen, and makes the brain send signals that jerk your body awake to resume proper breathing.

Q: What are the Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea?

  • A: A common sign of sleep apnea is loud snoring. Snoring that is loud enough to disturb the sleep of the patient as well as others around, even across the walls. That said, not everyone who snores suffers from obstructive sleep apnea.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Sacramento, California. Visit EYEcenter optometric for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

The Best Foods for Your Eyes

We all know that eating nutrient-rich foods, drinking plenty of water, and exercising can boost our health. So it’s no surprise that these same activities also support eye health. Research has shown that regularly consuming certain vitamins and nutrients can actually prevent or delay sight-threatening eye conditions and diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. 

Here’s a list of the best vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can help keep your eyes healthy for a lifetime. 

We invite you to consult with our eye doctor, Palmer N. Lee, O.D., to discuss which nutrients are most suited to your specific eye health and needs. 

Vitamins and Nutrients That Support Eye Health

*Always best to speak with your primary care doctor before taking any vitamins or supplements, and to ensure you consume the correct dosage for your body.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A deficiency can cause a host of eye health issues, including dry eyes and night blindness. In fact, vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness worldwide.

Vitamins A and A1, which are essential for supporting the eye’s photoreceptors (the light-sensing cells) in the retina, can be found in foods like carrots, leafy greens, egg yolks, liver, and fish. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Eating Omega-3 rich foods like fatty fish can support eye health in a few ways. DHA and EPA, 2 different types of Omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown to improve retinal function and visual development.  

Omega-3 supplements can also ease dry eye symptoms. A randomized controlled study found that people who consumed Omega-3 supplements experienced improved tear quality, which resulted in reduced tear evaporation and increased eye comfort.  

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that accumulate in the lens and retina and help filter out damaging UV rays and blue light. One study showed that individuals who had the highest levels of these nutrients in their diets had a 43% lower chance of developing macular degeneration than those who had consumed the least amount.  

Spinach, egg yolks, sweet corn, and red grapes are some of the foods that contain high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin. 

Vitamin C 

High amounts of vitamin C can be found in the aqueous humor of the eye, the liquid that fills the eye’s anterior chamber and supports corneal integrity. This has prompted scientists to consider this vitamin’s role in protecting eye health. 

Research suggests that regularly taking vitamin C (along with other essential vitamins and minerals) can lower the risk of developing cataracts, and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and visual acuity loss.

While vitamin C appears to support eye health in a variety of ways, it’s still unclear whether taking this supplement benefits those who aren’t deficient. Vitamin C can be found in various fruits and vegetables, like bell peppers, tomatoes, citrus fruits, broccoli, and kale. 

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect fatty acids from becoming oxidized. Because the retina has a high concentration of fatty acids, sufficient vitamin E intake is crucial for optimal ocular health. 

Vitamin E can be found in almonds, flaxseed oil, and sunflower seeds. 

Zinc

Healthy eyes naturally contain high levels of zinc. A zinc deficiency can cause night blindness, and thus increasing zinc intake can improve night vision. Zinc also helps absorb Vitamin A, an essential antioxidant. 

Make sure to avoid taking high doses of zinc (beyond 100 mg daily) without first consulting your eye doctor. Higher doses of zinc have been associated with side effects such as reduced immune function. You can increase your zinc intake naturally by consuming more oysters, meat, and peanuts. 

Phytochemical Antioxidants

Phytochemical antioxidants are chemicals produced by plants that contain several health benefits. Some studies show that these plant-based chemicals may enhance vision and eye health as well as prevent age-related eye diseases and complications by alleviating ocular oxidative stress. Oxidative stress within the eyes contributes to several eye conditions, including  dry eye syndrome. Consuming more produce with these antioxidants can help balance the anti-oxidant and pro-oxidant system, resulting in healthier eyes. 

Personalized Eye Nutrition 

If you or someone you know is looking for ways to boost or maintain eye health, speak with an optometrist near you about what supplements and vitamins are best for you. For an eye doctor in Citrus Heights, give us a call at 916-727-6518.

 

What Does It Mean If I Have Chronic Dry Eye Syndrome?

Whether you’re happy or sad, tears can fill your eyes. Along with expressing your emotions, tears play the important role of keeping your eyes moist so you can see clearly and comfortably. When you don’t have enough tears or your tear composition is unhealthy, your eyes can dry out – leading to chronic dry eye syndrome and the painful symptoms it brings.

Looking for relief from irritating dry eye? If you experience stinging, redness, a gritty feeling, light sensitivity, or blurry vision, our eye doctors can help! We offer specialized eye exams to diagnose dry eye syndrome, find the cause, and recommend the most effective personalized treatment. Visit our eye care offices in Citrus Heights, Gold River, Rocklin, Folsom, and Sacramento, California , for lasting relief from dry eye syndrome.

What’s wrong with my tears?

Tears are composed of water, oils, mucus, and antibodies to prevent infection. Special glands around your eyes produce tears. When you have dry eye syndrome, your tear system isn’t working at its best – so either your glands don’t make enough tears or the composition isn’t balanced.

What throws the tear-flow system out of whack?

It may be as simple as having insufficient moisture in your environment, sometimes from an a/c or heater. Other causes include natural aging (menopause in women), side effects of drugs, diseases that affect tear production, and sleeping with your eyelids slightly open. To pinpoint the precise cause of your dry eye syndrome to determine the most helpful treatment for your condition, our eye doctors will perform a thorough eye exam in Citrus Heights, Gold River, Rocklin, Folsom, and Sacramento, California .

At EYEcenter Optometric, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 916-727-6518 or book an appointment online to see one of our Citrus Heights eye doctors.

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