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Hormones and Eye Health: What Women Need to Know

It’s no secret that women experience quite a few hormonal changes throughout their adult lives. Often called the body’s “messengers,” hormones move through the bloodstream, regulating hunger, sleep, reproduction, and mood. But did you know that major hormonal shifts, including pregnancy and menopause, can affect your eyes?  

“Estrogen and progesterone, the two female sex hormones, can impact vision in a variety of ways,” explains Nishika Reddy, MD, an ophthalmologist at John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah. “For the most part, there’s no cause for alarm, and it’s a normal side effect of an increase or decrease in either hormone.”  

Hormones and vision changes


Increased progesterone during pregnancy may cause temporary blurred vision. It often resolves when hormones level out. If vision doesn’t return to normal a couple months after pregnancy or suddenly becomes blurry, see your ophthalmologist to rule out a serious eye condition such as diabetes.

It’s also important to monitor vision changes in the second or third trimester, as sudden vision changes could be a symptom of preeclampsia. Other symptoms of preeclampsia include swollen hands and face and severe headaches.

Aging and Menopause

Changing levels of estrogen and progesterone can affect the eye’s oil glands, leading to dry eye—one of the most common conditions experienced by women going through hormonal changes. When estrogen and progesterone levels decline with age, so does the lubrication produced by the eye’s oil glands. This can cause a scratchy feeling or light sensitivity, making it hard to read or drive at night. It can also cause blurry vision. 

Dry eye can also increase the risk of eye infection from lack of tears. For some, dry eye is temporary and responds to moisturizing eye drops. For others, dry eye can progress to a more serious condition and should be diagnosed and treated by an ophthalmologist.

Estrogen can also cause subtle changes in the shape of the cornea, making it more elastic. This affects how light travels into the eye. Dryness and a change in refraction can cause blurry vision and make wearing contact lenses difficult.

A healthy diet supports good vision  

“Throughout a woman’s life, a healthy diet can support overall eye health and vision,” Reddy says. “Focus on a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, with an emphasis on omega-3 oils found in fatty fish like fresh or canned tuna, trout, mackerel, and sardines. Plant-based sources include nuts, flax, chia seeds, and dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and arugula.”