The Menopause

Why your eyes are so watery – and what to do about it

Wondering why your eyes are so watery? Whether we’re thinking about upgrading our specs or booking an eye test, being conscious of our eye health is important, particularly in our 40s and beyond.

Many of us may experience a gradual decline in vision as we age, with some finding that eyes become increasingly dry or watery, too. For women of menopausal age, these changes can coincide with the fluctuations in our hormones, which influence the mucus membranes in the body and affect the levels of moisture in our eyes.

Factoring eye care into our daily routines can help to tackle watery eyes. Plus, as our experts explain, simple lifestyle changes can help too.

How does menopause impact our eyesight?

If you’re in midlife, you’re probably already familiar with common menopause symptoms, including hot flushes, weight gain and mood swings. However, a lesser-known symptom of the menopause is changes in our eye health.

“Falling oestrogen levels during the menopause and peri-menopause can affect the mucus membranes in the body including the eyes, which can play havoc with tear production,” explains Ian White, a Cheshire-based optometrist.  “Our tear quality and production naturally decreases with age, but in women this can be greatly accelerated. As a result, many of us start to notice problems with either gritty or watery eyes.”

Poor quality tears mean that our eyes don’t receive the essential oils they need to stay healthy and lubricated. As Dr Nabila Jones, optometrist and research associate at specialist eye hospital group Optegra Eye Health Care, explains, this can mean we produce more tears than normal.

“These essential oils are produced by the meibomian glands and they evaporate quickly,” she says. “These are then rapidly replaced by more tears to stop the eyes from drying out – and so we can suffer with overly watery eyes. This means we can appear to ‘cry’ without control.”

Why are my eyes so watery?

Although changes to hormones can affect eyes, it’s important not to put changes purely down to the menopause. The risk of developing eye conditions that can lead to sight loss, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma, increases with age. This is why it’s important to get regular eye examinations.

“Blocked tear ducts can be associated with increased tear production or reduced tear drainage,” explains ophthalmic surgeon Dr Elizabeth Hawkes. “But watery eyes can be caused by several different factors including hay fever, or possibly blepharitis (eyelid inflammation).

“Some medications and medical conditions can also cause watery eyes. Irritation to the eye, such as a stray eyelash, can also cause them to water.”

How to stop watery eyes

When it comes to watery eyes, the good news is that there are a number of easy solutions that can help.

“Watery eyes can occur for several different reasons, and a lot of the time they can return to normal without intervention,” says Elizabeth. “Over-the-counter eye drops, such as lubricants, can help. Antihistamines could also provide you with some relief if you suffer from allergies.

“However, if your watery eyes stop you from carrying out your day, or if you have lumps or swelling around your eyes, then it’s important to make an appointment with an eye specialist.”

Keep your eyes clean

As Ian explains, while a good skincare routine is great for keeping our complexions looking fresh, it can also help to keep our peepers happy.

“Eyes should be given a thorough cleanse morning and night, to remove all unwanted cosmetics and mascara from blocking the pores and tear ducts,” he says. “A suitable eye lubricant should also be used during the daytime and also before bed. A. Vogel Extra Moisturising Eye Drops (£14.99, 10ml) is suitable for most contact lens wearers.”

Tweak your diet

Making sure that you’re getting essential vitamins can make a big difference to your vision.

“We’ve all heard that carrots are good for our eyes and there is some truth in it,” says Dr Nigel Best, a Specsavers optometrist. “That’s because carrots contain beta-carotene which helps us make vitamin A – an essential vitamin for our eyes. It is also important to make sure we eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, including dark green leaves.”

“A diet rich in omega 3 is good as it improves the oil film on the eyes and overall eye health,” adds Nabila. “Foods such as nuts (walnuts), seeds (flax seeds) and oily fish (salmon and mackerel) are examples of foods rich in omega 3.”

Reduce your screen time

Many of us are guilty of mindless phone scrolling, and it may be playing havoc with our eyes, too.

“Screen time can have an impact on your eye health,” says Nigel. “Follow the 20:20:20 rule. Look up from your screen every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

“Looking into the distance helps relax the focusing muscles of your eyes. This, in turn, reduces eye fatigue. ”

Invest in eyecare

Eyecare products are widely available from your local pharmacy, optometrist or eye doctor and may be helpful for supporting your eye health.

“Ocular lubricants (eye drops that act as artificial tears) can help to keep eyes moist and prevent dry eye syndrome leading to watery eyes,” explains Dr Jones. “Lid hygiene measures for gland dysfunction such as hot compresses, and blepharitis wipes to keep the eyelids clean, can also be helpful.”

We love the drops and sprays from MTHK for keeping eyes happy and healthy. Don’t forget you can save 10% off your order at MTHK with the code LIZLOVES.

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