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'Dry Eye' May be Linked to Sex Hormones

Premature ovarian failure (POF) occurs when the ovaries stop functioning normally in women under 40 years and affected approximately 1 percent of women, according to the scientists. Women with POF experience the same symptoms of oestrogen deficiency as postmenopausal women, including hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, and mood swings, and have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.

Androgen deficiency, has been associated with dry eye, a condition affecting an estimated 15 percent of people in the United States aged 65 to 84 years. Reduced tear production and poor tear quality (causing moisture to evaporate from the surface of the eye too quickly) can result in dry eye. Because women with POF also have androgen deficiency, it is possible that POF and dry eye symptoms may be associated.

Janine A. Smith, M.D., and colleagues investigated the association between POF and dry eye. They examined 65 women with POF and 36 women without POF for symptoms of dry eye. The researchers found the proportion of patients that met dry eye diagnostic criteria was significantly greater among women with POF than women without POF (20 percent versus 3 percent).

"Women with POF were more likely to exhibit ocular surface damage and symptoms of dry eye than age-matched controls. They were not, however, more likely to have reduced tear production," the authors write. "These data provide further evidence of the multifaceted role of sex hormones in the health and disease of the ocular surface."

The study appears in the February issue of The Archives of Ophthalmology., Source: The Journal of the American Association (JAMA)


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