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Thread: Ladies Only! Birth Control Pills and Dry Eye

  1. #1
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    Ladies Only! Birth Control Pills and Dry Eye

    I know that this topic has come up in the past on here, but I have a bit of a different perspective. In some earlier posts here, some women actually seemed to feel that the birth control pills helped their dry eye. That was interesting but I'm concerned about the pills causing dry eye.

    I'm wondering if any of you (Ladies only, obviously!) have noticed any link between being on birth control pills and your dry eyes (either positive or negative). There is so much talk about hormones and menopause and hormone supplements being possible instigators but I haven't seen any definitive answers about birth control pills, which would obviously be an issue in the same way.

    I've been on birth control pills for almost 30 years. I'm 48 and I'm not in or near menopause yet. I've changed the type of pills a number of times and I'm not aware of a specific point of either when my dry eyes started nor any correlation to the pills or which kind of pills I was on at that time. I'm currently on Yasmin (and I currently, of course, still have dry eyes).

    Could you respond as to whether you have had any positive or negative effects to your dry eye that you know are due to your birth control pills and what kind of pills?

    Of course there is one caveat here...if people went off the pills and their dry eyes got better, they're probably not reading the DEZ posts anymore. So we may not hear both sides to this!


    Thanks all!

  2. #2
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    I think the pill influences my eyes or at least some hormones do. I've taken the pill since the age of 16 - probably the age when my first eye symtomps have started, I don't remember that exactly. I've changed a lot of pills over the last years but I have never noticed a difference.
    BUT: when I get my period during the 7 days without a pill by eyes become horrible, they are soooooooo much more inflammened during that time. Does anybody have an explanation for that???

  3. #3
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    I cannot believe that only one person replied to this post. C'mon girls, I know you're out there!

  4. #4
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    Well, um, not everyone wants to disclose their contraceptive practices online!

    But for what it's worth, I know of at least 2-3 reports of sudden onset dry eye that the patients linked to birth control pills as a trigger.
    Rebecca Petris
    The Dry Eye Zone

  5. #5
    okay, well I don't take birth control as it would put me in an odd group I guess. But I can tell you many birth control pills list dry eye as a side effect. There have been cases of ladies using birth control pills and develop dry eye symptoms. Stop taking them to try and concieve and dry goes away. But guess what in some instances pregnancy brings back dry eye symptoms. not being a lady and only reading research you gals have the odds against you when it comes to DES.

  6. #6
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    NYer,
    I'm 44 and post menopausal. I thought my dry eye was due to menopause since it was first diagnosed and then I learned my levels were post-menopausal at 42.

    Since then however, I've been to a dry eye specialist who believes I have ocular rosacea. Recently, my identical twin sister has been diagnosed with dry eye and also received a diagnosis of ocular rosacea from another dry eye expert and her hormonal levels are still pre-menopausal and she is not on any bcp's or hormone replacement.

    I'm currently on hormone replacement and do not believe that it has made my eyes any drier. It certainly helps me in many ways. I've also learned that I had a paternal aunt and first cousin (female) with dry eyes.

    The bottom line is that age and decreased hormones predispose some people towards minor dry eye. I don't believe that menopause is a huge contributor towards dry eye. The reason I believe this is because I asked every OB/GYN I came in contact with (I'm a pediatrician) about dry eye/menopause and many were not aware of the connection. They simply had not had any of these post-menopausal women complain of dry eye (they were too busy complaining of hot flashes, etc.)

    Why don't you stop the BCP for one month and see if it makes a difference? BCP's also mask the onset of menopause.

    Eileen

  7. #7
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    Eileen, that's very interesting. My father has dry eye, too, and I know it's not from Birth Control pills, LOL, but he doesn't have it as severely as I do either.

    Rebecca, you're right about people not wanting to post their, um, practices, but most people don't use their real names here anyway. I wouldn't have been so detailed if people knew that I'm really Heather Locklear!

    Indrep, thank you for being the only guy that responded, I agree with that.

    I'm leaning toward going off for awhile and seeing what happens. My hesitating is not pregnancy (I can use another means of birth control)...my hesitation is that the Yasmin has done wonders for preventing the skin on my face from breaking out (part of the rosacea issue). I still get the pink face, but I don't get pimples.

    What a trade-off.

  8. #8
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    Heather Locklear does not get pimples!
    Never play leapfrog with a unicorn.

  9. #9

    Smile

    I've taken Valette for about 3,5 years. I got dry eyes before I took birth controll pill.
    Once I was at my doctor, he asked me if I took birth controll pill and mentioned that could cause dry eyes. I read afterwards some articles and the statistics say around 50 to 60% report DES. If I search by google, "valette dry eyes" I see a lot of posts saying they can not bear contact lenses any more since they took valette.
    Birth controll pills raises female harmon and reduces male harmon. They help to avoid acnes. Side effect: dryness, dry eyes. Male harmon also helps to produce tears, thats why there are more female DES patients.
    I've been off Valette for about 5 weeks. My dry eyes havent got better. But I guess it might take 3 months or so.

  10. #10
    Eileen,
    You are correct about other medical specialties that prescribe meds or diagnose diseases and ignore the dry eye aspect of the med or disease. OB/GYNs, rhuematologists and urologists should be very aware of dry eye. I have made attempts to speak with these groups and I get same response "My patients are concerned with ________". I try to explain that within 24 months those same patients are going to be concerned with dry eyes and one day they may find out you could have sent them to someone who could have started an early intervention plan and saved them some grief. Guess how far I've gotten?

  11. #11
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    @ atta: I take 'Valette' as well. I'm also thinking about stopping to take it. Have there been success stories about eyes becoming better after stopping to take it?

  12. #12

    Hi Stephgurl

    Yes, I once read in a forum that someone stopped Valette and felt better afterwards. And she said she wouldnt take birth control pills anymore. But I think she didnt have dry eyes before and her DES is not very serious. It depends on individual. I'm really bothered by DES, so I'm willing to try every related possibility.
    It will take 2 to 3 months till the natural hormon rebuilds. I will report the result here.

  13. #13
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    menopause and dry eye

    According to most corneal specialists, the LADARVISION website, most dry eye websites I've read as well as my personal experience, there is a definite link between the two. The fact that most OB/GYN's don't know that is hardly surprising so don't let that sway you. The vast majority of menopausal women never make the connection between their eye symptoms and their hot flashes and never even mention them to the OB/GYN's. I know I never did. It just never occurred to me that the two were related.

    According to one dry eye specialist here in Maine, there is also a connection between menopause and rosacea/ocular rosacea. He quotes that up to 70% of peri-menopausal women develop some type of rosacea. He does not state why but I have my own theory:

    One of the key triggers of rosacea (as well as being a symptom) is facial flushing. No one flushes more than a peri or post menopausal woman...hot flashes and night sweats can be intense and predominently affect the face and chest. Add the link between ocular rosacea/MGD and the link between menopause and MGD (it's seems to be a question of which comes first, the chicken or the egg) and menopause is just a dry eye recipe.

    Natalie

    The hot flash queen. (believe me)

  14. #14
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    Oh great. I have rosacea ..facial and occular. So I'll go off the pill and go through menopause, get pimples and hot flashes.
    DianaT, I really am Heather Locklear. You just haven't seen me in HDTV, LOL.

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    NYer

    Please remember that this is just my theory!! There is an OTC HRT drug available in Europe called Livial (tibilone) that has not yet received FDA approval in the US. I took it for a year when I first started long-term Lupron therapy and it was great for the hot flashes. I had to order it from Thailand (I felt like a smuggler everytime I went to the local PO to pick up my "package") It is a non estrogen form of HRT that actually has more testosterone properties than estrogenic. I have been waiting 3 years for the FDA to approve it as my "source" in Thailand is no longer available. But I keep hoping and waiting.

    BTW, I am actually Angelina Jolie. Brad says "hi"!!

  16. #16
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    Do you think those Thai drugs would make me look like Angelina, too? I don't know about a supplement that has testosterone properties for me, anyway. I'd probably get pimples and hair on my chin. But so far, I seem to have at least a few years yet before menopause. My Mom got hers a little later, so maybe I will, too.
    (by the way, Natalie, your doggies are absolutely adorable!)

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    Please note: I am Catherine Zeta-Jones, have been for a long time. Michael says hello to Brad and the kiddies.
    At one time, my avatar was an actual picture of the real me--CZJ. Rebecca remembers.
    Don't trust any refractive surgeon with YOUR eyes.

    The Dry Eye Queen

  18. #18
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    Not sure if this will help anyone but in case....my experience of North American BCPs was they are often too high doseage, the 20mg oestrogen ones are totally fine, and if you're on higher it might be worh reducing before quitting to see if it helps at all. Also those tri-cyclen things you have where it goes up and down every month are horrific, best to get on something at least even....

    here's a link to some low-dose ones: http://www.drdonnica.com/display.asp?article=5246

  19. #19
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    Stanza, that's a really good point. Maybe just stepping down to a lower dosage would help.

    Lucy, I knew you were a sex goddess. I could tell that the sunglasses were just to stay incognito.

  20. #20
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    Nyer

    Quote Originally Posted by NYer View Post
    Do you think those Thai drugs would make me look like Angelina, too?
    (by the way, Natalie, your doggies are absolutely adorable!)
    Just a word of caution: I only look like Angelina within the confines of my house and only through my own eyes...

    And I am a sucker for anyone who thinks my dogs are cute...which might explain why I am still single...I rented the movie "must love dogs" hoping it was actually about dogs. LOL

    And how did you get your dog to pose at the computer?
    Last edited by Natalie06; 29-Feb-2008 at 06:08. Reason: PS

  21. #21
    Nyer,

    Just found it interesting that you are on Yasmin too. I just went off after being on that pill for a year (I have been on other pills for years). I loved what it did for my skin, but I'm wondering too about the dry eye connection. I have only been off BC pills for two weeks. I'll give it some time, but so far, no changes to redness and dryness.

    Carrie

  22. #22
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    Hi Carrie,
    Well, you and I are kindrid spirits...I just went off altogether two days ago. I was going to try switching to another lower dose one and then I figured that if I really want to know for sure if it's the pill causing my dry eyes, I'd better just go cold turkey. I'll miss the benefits of it and I'm praying my face doesn't break out, but I'm willing to take the risk if it'll make my eyes better.
    It occured to me that with Yasmin, more than even other pills, not only are the basic hormones possibly an issue, but it actually is also a diuretic - and if it's emptying fluids from your body, certainly it could be sucking some of them from your eyes. And when I realized that, I figured it's time to go off.
    Don't expect to see results quite that fast, though. It'll be at least a few months before your body adjusts to the change in hormone level. Figure 3-6 months before you see anything. (Although the skin changes could show up a lot sooner than that. )
    NY

  23. #23
    NY,

    My eye doc has me on doxycycline (50 mg 2x/day) and that is what is keeping my acne under control for the moment. I'm not really on doxy for ocular roseacea or MGD... I think he was getting to the point where he was grasping at straws. At least that will keep it under control while I give the BC pills a rest for a while.

    Have you seen Dr. Latkany, Miss NY? I am thinking about a trip up. Four eye docs, 6 months and a million eye drops later, I am still having issues with redness/dryness in response to environmental conditions.

    Carrie

  24. #24
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    Hi Carrie,
    Yes, I've been to Dr. Latkany twice - in fact the second visit was earlier this week. He's very nice and he is quite willing to listen to my thoughts on what I think I might need or taking a different approach to something. And clearly, he does understand dry eyes, so I figured he'd be the guy to see. That said, I haven't yet had any results that I can say are good or bad, so for that, we'll have to wait and see. I also live about a half mile from his office, so for me it wasn't exactly a difficult decision.
    Insofar as doxycycline goes, I was on it for about two weeks about a month ago (100 mg 2x/day). Actually, it was Dr. L who prescribed it for my occular and facial rosacea. I had to go off of it though, because it set off my acid reflux, which is now horrible (what a night I had last night...but that's for a different bulletin board). So I can't take doxy anymore.
    Oh, by the way, I am on my second day of Azasite drops per Dr. L. I had asked him about them and he thought it was worth a try (he didn't suggest it - I did. And that's one of the great things about this web site - we go to our doctors armed with knowledge and we can suggest things that they may not think of first.)
    So that's my story right now.
    If you do go to him, I'd like to know what you think of the office visit compared to other docs you've been to.
    -NYer

  25. #25
    Nyer,

    How has the Azasite worked for you?

    I have redness in my eyes that flares from certain environmental situations (and when I say flare, I mean RED!). My eyes will be clear and then I will go to the shopping mall and whammo! White part of my eye near my nose will get a huge red spot. I'm also triggered at places like my office, Target, grocery store, windy days outside, sometimes my car (try to not use A/C or heat). Every morning my eyes are clear again. The cycle starts again once I hit one of the above triggers...

    I have had some increasing soreness and I can say it now feels uncomfortable to go to the grocery store. I can feel that part of my eye getting inflammed. It feels raw and unprotected.

    I've been to 5 opthomologists now. They tell me everything from dry eye to episcleritis to inflammation and potential allergy. No one has been able to put their finger on it and prevent this daily occurrence. Just had allergy testing done and I'm allergic to a gammut of enviornmental things, but OTC allergy meds didn't help. Interestingly enough, allergist prescribed Veramyst for me and it seems like it is having a small impact. Too early to say or get hopes up.

    In any case, I have been on almost everything (you name it), but not Azasite... so wanted to see how you were doing. Funny, no one can agree I have dry eye at all -- but I've had this on-again-off-again redness for months. Arrgh... just trying to find the trigger!

    Thanks!

  26. #26
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    Hi Curly,
    I posted my post-Azasite results in one of the Azasite threads, but in a nutshell, it was horrible.
    Azasite was terrible for me. I was on it for four days and had to go off of it. Although I didn't have the initial stinging or burning upon instilling it (as many people here have), it has irritated the heck out of my eyes and to no benefit.
    I put the drops before bed, as directed. I woke up a few times during the night and my eyeballs were really sore and dry and irritated. I had to put lots of Systane PF drops in. It took 24 hours to feel better. It's now been 4 days and my eyes are still much dryer than they were before the Azasite.
    My lids and rims are red and I have shadows under my eyes. Before this, my eyes actually LOOKED pretty much fine. Now they look terrible.
    So I'm much worse off than I was before I tried the Azasite.

    Can't tell if going off the pill has made a difference yet - I've only been off for two weeks. But my face has already managed to start breaking out.

    So, that's all my news.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by curlygrl31 View Post
    I have redness in my eyes that flares from certain environmental situations (and when I say flare, I mean RED!). My eyes will be clear and then I will go to the shopping mall and whammo! White part of my eye near my nose will get a huge red spot. I'm also triggered at places like my office, Target, grocery store, windy days outside, sometimes my car (try to not use A/C or heat). Every morning my eyes are clear again. The cycle starts again once I hit one of the above triggers...
    curlygrl31,

    If it's always environmental triggers for you, why not use protective eyewear? Some kind of moisture chamber or sunglasses with a foam-lined eyecup like Panoptx can make all the difference in the world in that kind of situation, by creating a micro-environment around your eyes. Granted most of the current products are not the most elegant things in the world but there are custom moisture chambers that can look quite nice, some of the sunglasses look great, and there are a couple of new products on the way that should look quite good.
    Rebecca Petris
    The Dry Eye Zone

  28. #28
    Hey Rebecca,

    I think my thoughts on the protective eyewear are two fold. #1 I want to get to the root cause of why my eyes are reacting this way as a healthy 31-year old -- no Lasik, contacts, etc. -- when this was NOT an issue for me a year ago (only very sporadic redness issues then). #2 Vanity. There, I said it. Just being honest with you.

    Would like to find what is throwing me "over my threshold" and causing the inflammation rather than just treating the symptoms alone.

    Nyer, thanks for the update. Good to know. Fingers crossed that you start to turn a corner.

    Carrie

  29. #29
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    I hear you. I would never consider eyewear as a substitute for thorough diagnosis and treatment, of course. But it is a very practical tool, and one that is often underutilized. For some people (a minority of severe dry eye patients) eyewear is vital for pain control, and for others to prevent actual corneal damage (ulceration), for others light sensitivity, etc. while the investigation is ongoing and/or if there is no current cure if/when the cause IS pinned down.

    If the severity isn't actually putting someone's eye health at risk, and if the symptoms aren't driving them to distraction, then there's no reason to subject themselves to eyewear they don't like.
    Rebecca Petris
    The Dry Eye Zone

  30. #30
    I find this thread interesting. I keep going back to bcp's as the start of all my troubles.
    I've been on bcp's for about 10 years and only after I was switched to yaz did all my troubles begin, contact discomfort and horrible headaches and facial pain. I went off completely and then back on my old stuff (loestrin) b/c my neurologist said it could not be causing all this. I know that the insert specifically says it can trigger migraines and contact discomfort---but she's the doc.
    My theory is that bcp's caused my dry eye, my dry eye was masked by my contact lens use until I couldn't wear contacts all together, and over a period of all this neglect my facial nerves started acting up?
    I know I'm grasping at straws here, but there has to be a cause right?
    I'm thinking of going back off. I just wonder which of my docs to consult with----gp, obgyn, opth? apparently not my neurologist. Who would know the most most about hormonal/eye/nerve interactions?

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