Your Eye Health

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So Your Vision is Not What it Was . . .Now What?


Eyes are our windows to the world and, as the saying goes, the windows to our soul.

Through these lenses, we capture billions of images and memories over a lifetime.

And yet most of us take our eyes for granted. According to a CDC study, fewer than half of us contact an eye doctor even after exhibiting signs of vision problems or knowing that we’re at high risk for vision issues.  And as we get older, the likelihood of having problems with our eyesight increases — especially if we also experience common health concerns such as diabetes and hypertension.

When a woman is talking to you, listen to what she says with her eyes.
– Victor Hugo

A Primer on How Your Eyes Change Over Time.

As we celebrate each birthday, your eyes are aging right along with the rest of you. Most of these changes are pretty normal:

  • eyelid muscles weaken, causing eye lids to droop
  • skin under eyes gets thinner, causing lower lids to sag and making area more prone to undereye circles
  • eyelashes and eyebrows become more sparse
  • tear production slows down, causing dry and irritated eyes
  • eyes may also tear up more in an attempt to counter the dryness
  • whites of eyes may become more yellow
  • corneas can develop a whitish ring around the edge
  • lenses of eyes harden, leading to presbyopia . . . leading to your first pair of reading glasses in a series



When to See Your Eye Doctor.

Make an appointment with your ophthalmologist for regular checkups at least every three years starting at 40. After 55, go every year.

Even if you have 20/20 vision right now, regular checkups are important.  By starting to monitor your eyes before problems crop up, you’ll have a baseline so that any changes are easy to detect. What’s more, an ophthalmologist can often spot the early signs of other serious health problems, like high blood pressure or diabetes.

Call an Ophthalmologist ASAP if:

  • you lose all or part of your vision, which could be a sign of a serious condition
  • you see flashing lights or a cluster of little specks “floating” in front of your eyes, as these may be symptoms of a detached retina or an ocular migraine
  • you have a sharp pain in or around your eyes, which could indicate a corneal abrasion or infection, which is a particular concern if you wear contact lenses.
  • you suddenly have blurred vision, tearing, redness, or a discharge from your eyes

Big Issue for Menopause Women? Dry Eyes, Hands Down.

Dry eyes are one of the biggest complaints of peri- or post-menopausal women, thanks to drops in estrogen levels. But, if you have persistently red, dry or itchy eyes, it may indicate an underlying issue. Allergies, especially pollen allergies, are notorious for irritating eyes. If this is the case, then treating the allergy — with the advice of your PCP or an allergist — should resolve your eye woes.

But an even more common culprit is something called blepharitis, which is an inflammation of the eyelid caused when tiny oil glands become infected or inflamed.  While irritating, this condition doesn’t usually cause any long-term problems. In addition to using moisturizing drops, consider two highly effective home remedies:

  • Hot Compresses: Soak a fresh, clean washcloth in hot water and hold it to your eyes for about ten minutes (re-heating with fresh hot water as needed) at least twice a day. Or look for microwavable eye masks.
  • Eyelid Scrubs: Mix a few drops of baby shampoo with warm water, and gently wash the eyelid along the lash line with a washcloth, then rinse well.

If the irritation continues, check with your eye doctor.

Here’s What Else You Need To Know About Your Eyes.

Check out these excellent articles for best ways to take care of your eyes right now . . . and forevermore.

Final Note . . . don’t smoke. It really hurts your eyes.
Oh . . . and wear sunglasses rain or shine, all year long.
#OhSayCanYouSee

Author

  • The Menopause Cheat Sheet is a weekly newsletter focused on menopause and its impact on the long-term overall health and wellbeing of women over 40. It is created by Barbara Hannah Grufferman author (“Love Your Age” and “The Best of Everything After 50”) who focuses on successful aging, and Dr. Margaret Nachtigall, founding member of the North American Menopause Society, Clinical Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Health, sought after speaker, and media expert on women’s health.

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