Understanding and Managing Dry Eyes During Pregnancy
From hormonal changes to lifestyle adjustments, learn how to keep your eyes comfortable and healthy during this special time.
Dry eyes during pregnancy are a common occurrence, affecting up to 30% of pregnant women. There are a number of reasons why dry eyes happen to pregnant women, including hormonal changes, increased stress, and increased screen time.
Dry eyes can be extremely uncomfortable, causing symptoms such as itching, burning, and redness. Luckily, there are a number of ways to treat and prevent dry eyes in pregnancy.
What Causes Dry Eyes During Pregnancy
There are a few different reasons why dry eyes may occur during pregnancy. One possibility is that the increased levels of hormones in the body can cause the tear ducts to produce less tears.
Another reason may be that the extra blood flowing through the body can cause the blood vessels in the eyes to dilate, which can lead to dryness and irritation. The tear ducts become engorged and unable to function properly.
Additionally, pregnancy can cause changes in the blink reflex, which can also contribute to dry eyes.
Symptoms of Dry Eyes during Pregnancy
Dry eyes can cause symptoms of discomfort, such as burning, itching, or a feeling of sand in the eye. The condition can also lead to problems with vision, such as blurred vision or difficulty wearing contact lenses.
Here are some of the common symptoms of dry eyes during pregnancy:
- Dry or scratchy eyes.
- Burning or irritation.
- Achy sensations in the eyeball.
- A feeling of heaviness in the eyes.
- Red eyes.
- Light sensitivity (photophobia)
- Blurred vision (another common pregnancy side effect)
- Watery eyes (ironic, we know, but irritated eyes water.
The symptoms of dry eyes can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, making it difficult to carry out everyday activities. Fortunately, there are a few things that can be done to help relieve the symptoms of dry eyes during pregnancy.
How to Combat Dry Eyes during Pregnancy
Dry eyes during pregnancy are a common complaint, but there are things you can do to help relieve the discomfort. Here are several things you can do to combat dry eyes during pregnancy:
Use artificial tears.
Artificial tears can be used to treat dry eyes during pregnancy, as hormonal changes can cause decreased tear production. These over-the-counter lubricating eye drops can help to moisturize the eyes and relieve symptoms such as itching, burning, and redness.
Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil and other supplements, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties which can be beneficial for dry eye symptoms.
Studies have also shown that supplementing with omega-3s can improve the quality of the tears and may increase the production of the natural oils in the tears that help to prevent evaporation, leading to a reduction in dryness.
Avoid using antihistamines.
Antihistamines, which are commonly used to treat allergy symptoms, can have a negative effect on dry eyes during pregnancy. They can cause dryness in the eyes by decreasing tear production, which can worsen already existing dry eye symptoms. It’s always best to consult with a doctor before taking any medication during pregnancy.
Limit your time spent in front of screens.
Giving your eyes a break when pregnant is important to prevent fatigue, strain and dryness. Prolonged use of electronic devices or reading can cause the eyes to work harder and blink less, leading to dry eyes, fatigue, and headaches. Taking regular breaks and practising good eye care habits can help alleviate symptoms and prevent further complications.
If you are experiencing dry eyes during pregnancy, talk to your doctor about the best treatment options for you. Always consult your doctor before taking any medications during pregnancy.
Apply a warm compress.
Applying a warm compress to the eyes can help to relieve dry eyes during pregnancy by increasing blood flow to the area and promoting the production of natural tears. The warmth also helps to loosen any oils that have hardened in the glands which can help to unblock them and produce more tears
Increase your blink rate.
Increasing your blink rate can help to relieve the symptoms of dry eyes during pregnancy by spreading tears evenly over the surface of the eyes. When we blink, we spread the tears over the surface of the eye, thus keeping them lubricated. Blinking also helps to wash away any foreign particles or irritants that may be present on the surface of the eye.
Use a humidifier.
Using a humidifier can help to relieve dry eyes during pregnancy by increasing the humidity in the air, which can help to reduce the evaporation of the tears. Dry air can cause dry eyes, as it evaporates the moisture from the eyes. A humidifier can help to add moisture to the air and keep the eyes lubricated and comfortable, reducing the symptoms of dry eyes.
Over-the-Counter Eye Drops for Dry Eyes
There are a number of over-the-counter eye drops that can help to relieve the symptoms of dry eyes. These eye drops can help to lubricate the eyes and reduce the irritation and discomfort caused by dry eyes.
Tips for Preventing Dry Eyes during Pregnancy
There are a few things you can do to prevent dry eyes during pregnancy:
- Use artificial tears.
- Avoid smoking and exposure to smoke.
- Avoid dusty or windy conditions.
- Use a humidifier in your home.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid wearing contact lenses.
- Blink frequently.
- Use a computer screen filter.
Dry eyes can happen to anyone, but they are especially common during pregnancy. The good news is that there are things you can do to help prevent and treat dry eyes. Be sure to drink plenty of water, blink often, and use artificial tears to help keep your eyes healthy and comfortable during pregnancy.
If you are pregnant and suffering from dry eyes, it is important to talk to your doctor or midwife about the best treatment options for you.
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