Why Dry Eye Affects Women More Than Men

Dry eye disproportionately affects women, and they are diagnosed at a younger age and have more extreme symptoms compared to men.

Why Dry Eye Affects Women More Than Men in Olympia

American Family Vision Clinic

While dry eye (also known as dry eye syndrome) is an increasingly common ailment, especially among people aged 50 and up, women are observed to suffer from it more often than men. The obvious question, of course, is why.

Hormonal Changes

Women’s hormone levels fluctuate throughout their lives, for a number of reasons. These hormonal changes have been shown to make dry eye more likely, as the fluctuations of estrogen, progesterone, and testosteron, along with other hormones, impact tear production and quality. In particular, high estrogen levels and low testosterone levels contribute to dry eye syndrome.

In particular, some things which impact hormones are likely to also impact dry eye symptoms:

  • Monthly cycle: Estrogen levels are at their highest point during the first half of womens’ monthly cycle. Because of this, dry eye symptoms may be more severe during the days soon after menstruation.
  • Pregnancy: Hormonal changes during pregnancy may lead to dry eye, among other vision changes. Additionally, in early pregnancy, morning sickness and vomiting can cause dehydration, which also affects the moisture levels in the eyes.
  • Oral contraceptives: Dry eyes are a well known side effect of many oral contraceptives. This is because they lower the body’s androgen levels, which may negatively impact both the quality and quantity of tears produced.
  • Menopause: Menopause causes many hormonal changes in the body, and is therefore a very common cause of dry eyes in women over the age of 50. In fact, approximately 61 percent of perimenopausal and menopausal women are affected by dry eyes.
  • Hormone replacement therapy: Approximately 38 percent of post-menopausal women in the United States use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to manage their menopausal symptoms. HRT is strongly linked to dry eye syndrome.
Hormonal Changes


Women who regularly wear eye makeup such as mascara or eyeliner, have a higher risk of developing dry eye. This is due to the ingredients found in these products which can irritate the eyes. Additionally, makeup removers often contain oils and chemicals which can thin the tear film covering the eyes, which causes tears to evaporate early.



How Can Women Reduce Their Risk of Dry Eye?

While women remain at higher risk for developing dry eye, there are some things they can do to reduce that risk:

  • Remove eye makeup using a gentle soap or a paraben-free makeup remover.
  • If you use a hairdryer, try to avoid aiming it toward the eyes, as that can cause tears to evaporate.
  • Avoid applying eye makeup to the inner parts of the eyelid
  • Always discuss eye health history and potential side effects with your primary caregiver before you start on any medication.
  • Drink plenty of water to remain well-hydrated.
  • Use lubricating eye drops to relieve dryness when necessary.
  • Use a humidifier in your home or workplace to reduce dryness in the air.
  • Wear protective eyewear, such as sunglasses, while outdoors to protect the eyes from irritants like wind and dust.
  • Eat foods rich in Omega-3s or take Omega-3 supplements to improve tear quality.

Common Questions

Yes, typically older females going through menopause are more prone to having dry eyes than others. Also people taking certain medications such as anxiety medications, antidepressants, antihistamines, antipsychotics, anti-muscle spasm medications, Accutane, beta blockers, contraceptives, as well as certain diuretic medications, are more prone to have dry eyes. Also people who are contact lens wearers who don’t properly take care of their contacts or are wearing contacts with low oxygen permeability may be more prone to dry eyes. Additionally, people who tend to work on a digital screen for a prolonged period of time can increase their risk of dry eyes.
Yes, when we perform tasks that require high visual concentration, such as staring at a computer screen, reading, or writing for a prolonged period of time, this results in us blinking less, causing dry eyes. Additionally, some other everyday activities that can cause dry eyes are using a hair dryer, not drinking enough water, sitting in front of the office air-conditioner or fan, wearing eye makeup, working in extreme temperatures, wind blowing in your face, or being surrounded by cigarette smoke.
Why Dry Eye Affects Women More Than Men
Dr. Zurcher cartoon

Contact Us

If you are experiencing symptoms of dry eye, contact us at (360) 491-2121 to schedule an appointment. The sooner dry eye is addressed, the easier it is to effectively treat. Patients with dry eyes visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of dry eye care for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.

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Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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