Dry Eyes

Dry eyes are an extraordinarily common complaint among postmenopausal women. You can buy lots of dry eye preparations that are not particularly effective. Some women with dry eyes are diagnosed as having Sjogren's syndrome and are treated with prednisone and other drugs that suppress immunity and have other serious side effects. These drugs also are not particularly effective.

In 1995, Greek physicians reported that cells on the inside of a person's eyelids mature when stimulated by estrogen just like breast and uterine cells do (1). With loss of estrogen, eyelid cells do not mature normally. In 1998, doctors in Vienna, Austria reported that dry eyes bothering postmenopausal women can be cured by applying estrogen drops in the same concentration used to treat a dry vagina (2). Before you receive any treatment for dry eyes, ask your doctor to take a bacterial culture of your eyes. If it grows out staph epidermidis, coagulase negative, your doctor may prescribe conventional antibiotic eye and nose ointments (e.g. neosporin, Polysporin, etc.) and an oral cephalosporin pill. If no bacteria grow on the culture, you may have a mycoplasma infection that cannot be diagnosed by conventional cultures. Each night before you go to sleep, apply erythromycin eye ointment into your eyes and neosporin ointment on the outside of your eyelids and nose. If that doesn't work, check with your doctor to see if other treatments are available.  Also see report #G165.


1) D Vavilis, S Maloutas, M Nasioutziki, E Boni, J Bontis. Conjunctiva is an estrogen-sensitive epithelium. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica 74: 10(NOV 1995):799-802. Conjunctiva appears to be a relatively estrogen-sensitive epithelium.

2) MO Sator, EA Joura, T Golaszewski, D Gruber, P Frigo, M Metka, A Hommer, JC Huber. Treatment of menopausal keratoconjunctivitis sicca with topical oestradiol. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 105: 1(JAN 1998):100-102. Address MO Sator, Univ Vienna, Frauenklin, ABT Gynakol Endokrinol &, Sterilitatsbehandlung, Dept Obstet & Gynaecol, A-1090 Vienna, Austria. Our study demonstrates that topical oestrogen is successful in treating keratoconjunctivitis sicca while it seems that the blood-eye barrier prevents systemic oestrogens from acting on the conjunctivae.

3) Fox, RI et al. Beneficial effects of artificial tears made with autologous serum in patients with keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Arthritis and Rheumatism 1984(April);27(4):459-461.

Checked 8/9/05

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