Looking at the effect of gender on health can be complicated. Women tend to outlive men, but are more likely to report health problems. When it comes to dry eye disease, the data is clear: Women are affected at disproportionately higher rates than men. Understanding the reasons for this disparity helps Laser Eye Center provide the best possible care for our patients.
Why Is Dry Eye More Common in Women?
There are several reasons why women are more likely to develop dry eye disease than men.
- Dry eye is closely linked to hormonal fluctuations in women. When a woman’s estrogen, progesterone and/or testosterone levels fluctuate — as they do during pregnancy, menopause or while taking oral contraceptives — it can affect the quality and quantity of her tears.
- Dry eye is highly correlated with autoimmune/inflammatory diseases such as lupus, thyroid disease and rheumatoid arthritis —all of which are more prevalent in women than in men.
- Some of the ingredients found in women’s eye makeup can be harsh and irritating to the eyes. These ingredients may thin out the tear film, causing tears to evaporate rapidly off the surface of the eyes.
- Dry eye becomes more common with age. Women statistically live longer than men and make up a higher percentage of the older patient population.
The signs and symptoms of dry eye are usually the same in both men and women: stinging, itching, burning, a foreign body sensation, light sensitivity and pain.
Seeking Professional Care for Dry Eye Disease
Women are generally more inclined than men to seek expert care for medical problems, including dry eye. Also, women tend to pursue diagnosis and treatment at an earlier stage of dry eye disease than men. Many men put off seeking treatment until their symptoms are more severe.
Despite the differences in the frequency and causes of dry eye in men versus women, Laser Eye Center offers the same great care for all of our patients suffering the discomfort of the disease.
We always start by determining the specific type of dry eye-causing symptoms. We take down a complete medical history, perform a thorough eye exam and review all of the patient’s medications to identify anything that could affect the quality or the quantity of the tears. Additional tests may be ordered as needed to confirm or rule out dry eye.
Usually the first line of defense against dry eye disease is the use of medicated eyedrops to lubricate the eyes. If we do not see sufficient results with medical therapy, we progress to other options, such as iLux. This is the first true intervention for dry eye: iLux does not simply mask the symptoms, it treats the source.
Although you cannot control your sex, you can control the choices you make about your health and wellbeing. If you are experiencing the uncomfortable symptoms of dry eye, please contact Laser Eye Center for help. Give us a call at (800) 805-2737 or send us an email today.
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