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Surprising Impacts Your Hormones Have On Your Vision

By Essilor News

While it's expected that hormones can influence changes in mood, skin, and weight, experts say hormones have an impact on vision, too.

Female Hormones and Vision

"Women often experience some changes in their vision during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause as a result of hormones," says Albert Pang, O.D., optometrist and owner,of Trinity Eyecare in Plano, Texas.

Estrogen is thought to be the biggest culprit, and most of the hormonally charged changes in vision occur during milestone stages of a woman's life.

When a young girl enters puberty, Dr. Pang says the sudden increase in estrogen in her body may cause an increase in nearsightedness, also called myopia. During pregnancy a woman's body will have a constant surge of both estrogen and progesterone, which can also cause blurry vision or trouble focusing.

"Changes in vision related to pregnancy are usually temporary and reverse themselves a few weeks after delivery," says Dr. Pang.

The hormonal shifts associated with perimenopause and menopause can also trigger vision changes.

"When a woman's estrogen and progesterone levels greatly decrease, as is common with menopause, vision is usually less 'nearsighted' than before menopause," said Dr. Pang.

The result is trouble reading fine print or focusing on things close up without the help of lenses or a magnifying glass. Dr. Pang says the increased water retention that's common with a loss of estrogen is what generally leads to inflammation of the cornea, which makes it difficult to focus.

The dip in estrogen common with menopause and perimenopause can also cause dry eyes, says Edward Kondrot, M.D., ophthalmologist, founder of the Healing The Eye & Wellness Center, and clinical director of Integrative Medicine of the American Medical College of Homeopathy.

A woman's menstrual cycle can also affect vision.

"During the first week of menstruation the typical elevated estrogen level can cause blurred vision, trouble focusing, and watery eyes," says Dr. Kondrot.

Aside from changes during pregnancy, most of the changes in vision that occur during puberty and menopause are irreversible.

Male Hormones and Vision

Our eyes may also be affected by androgens, "male" hormones like testosterone, which both men and women make. For example, women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) often have dry eyes due to excess androgen levels. Whether you're a man or a woman, lower androgen levels may affect specific glands that make tears or the oily film that keeps the surface of your eye moist. Finally, middle-age men may find their vision isn’t what it used to be due to low testosterone levels. 

A Healthy Diet and a Comprehensive Eye Exam Can Help

Maintaining a healthy diet can help protect vision and reduce the impact of hormones.

Eating several servings of fruits and vegetables a day can help reduce inflammation in the body.

"Avoid processed foods and those with preservatives or artificial sweeteners to promote healthy vision and eye health," says Dr. Kondrot.

Talk to your healthcare professional about incorporating certain foods, supplements, or omega-3-rich oils like primrose, borage, and flaxseed into your diet to protect your vision. Similarly, a comprehensive eye exam with an eyecare professional can help you prevent and address vision changes that may be the result of fluctuating hormones.