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Dry Eye can be harder to detect in men

Dry eye in men

Men get dry eye too

Dry eye is a very real risk for men too but according to experts it can be harder to detect than in women. Dry eye is a condition caused by a deficiency in the quantity or quality of your tears and can leave you with watery, dry, itchy, sore and irritated eyes. If you suspect you might be affected it could be time to book that long due trip to the opticians.

There is understandably a great focus on the impact dry eye has on the overall wellbeing of women especially as natural aging factors, such as the menopause, kick-in. This is because women are more likely to suffer from the impact of dry eye than men due in large part to the effects of certain hormones, such as estrogens. However, it is important to be aware that men are not immune to dry eye and suffer too. Studies estimate that 1 in 10 men will be experiencing dry eye and that this will increase with age.

The role of androgens

Androgens are often referred to as the ‘male sex hormones’ and include testosterone. They have essential roles in the body of both men and women. One of their lesser-known roles is to support the function of the lacrimal glands that produce your tears. As you age your level of androgen hormones slowly reduces, this is most significant in men, and helps explain the increase in dry eye symptoms as men age. A Research study which measured androgen levels showed that by the age of 45 40% of men had a low androgen level, making them higher risk for dry eye.

Environmental factors

Dry eye is very much affected by environmental factors, and this applies to both men and women. Those who work outdoors, such as gardeners or construction workers, may face extra challenges, especially in windy, sunny and dry weather. These conditions can speed up the loss of tears from the surface of the eye and make dry eye tendencies worse. If you are exposed to such elements it is worth considering keeping a bottle of hydrating eye drops in your pocket to give your eyes a soothing moisture boost.

Dry eye and sport

The message is clear that exercise is good for your dry eye. There have been several studies which have linked low levels of physical activity with increased severity of dry eye symptoms. But when you are out exercising it is worth keeping those hydrating eye drops with you especially if you find yourself in low humidity situations.

If you are a keen sports person keeping your tear film has another benefit as well as keeping your eyes comfortable it also brings sharper clearer vision. Your tear film contributes around 70% of your eyes focusing power.

Impact of medications

As we age there is a tendency to require more frequent medication. A side-effect of many commonly prescribed drugs can be dry eye symptoms. If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms and taking medication it is always worth checking the side-effects, and if needed speaking to your doctor. Among the many drugs which increase the risk of dry eye are: antidepressants, antihypertensives, glaucoma eye drops and medications to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Book an eye examination

It is well documented that men are less likely to take proactive steps regarding their health and there is no reason to assume that dry eye would be any different. It is important to remember that dry eye is a progressive disease which if not managed can lead to more serious ocular surface conditions. The Dry Eye Zone always encourages people to keep up to date with eye examinations as you can learn a lot about your health from your optician – more that just about your eyes!

If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms then you should ask the advice of your eye care professional. Why not book your next eye examination with an independent optician today.


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Dr Chimene Richa, reviewed by Dr Gina Allegretti. What are androgens? How excessive levels affect men and women. March 22, 2022

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Sizar O, Schwartz J. Hypogonadism. [Updated 2022 Jun 27]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:

Motoko Kawashima, Miki Uchino, Norihiko Yokoi, Yuichi Uchino, Murat Dogru, Aoi Komuro, Yukiko Sonomura, Hiroaki Kato, Yuji Nishiwaki, Shigeru Kinoshita, Kazuo Tsubota, "The Association between Dry Eye Disease and Physical Activity as well as Sedentary Behavior: Results from the Osaka Study", Journal of Ophthalmology, vol. 2014, Article ID 943786, 6 pages, 2014.

Daniel J. Peart, Ian H. Walshe, Emma L. Sweeney, Emily James, Thomas Henderson, Alasdair F. O'Doherty, Alison M. McDermott. The effect of acute exercise on environmentally induced symptoms of dry eye. The Journal of Physiology. Physiological Reports. 29 January 2020

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Mark Torres
Mark Torres
٣٠ يونيو ٢٠٢٣

Thanks for an interesting article. I think that a consultation at one of the Sexual Health Clinics will definitely help to find out the necessary information.

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