Pregnancy is beautiful and life-altering in many ways. As you get used to the idea of a baby growing inside you, at each stage of your journey, there are many health changes you need to deal with on many levels; physical, emotional, hormonal and lifestyle.
Dry eye syndrome and vision changes are common during pregnancy due to surging hormones. Your eyes may feel dry, itchy and tear up excessively, all of which are caused by lack of moisture. The symptoms can worsen towards the end of the first trimester when hormonal changes begin to peak and stay constant until a few months after childbirth. The dryness may not be a constant discomfort but comes and goes throughout the day. Hormonal fluctuations are responsible for this, making the oil glands change throughout the pregnancy.
The meibomian glands or oil glands are lined up in the eyelids along the upper and lower edges. They secrete oil in tears to prevent evaporation. As a result of oil gland changes, you may tear up more often but they do not dry up as fast, leaving your eyes watery sometimes and dry at others. As the hormones gradually balance back to normal after a month or two post lactation, the eyes return to their earlier health.
Treatment for Dry Eyes
It is important to schedule a visit with your doctor if you experience dry eyes. The treatments range from advising you to produce artificial tears to hydrating the eyes with rewetting drops to reduce discomfort. You may be advised to apply warm compresses to stimulate the oil glands and encourage blood flow to the area.
Your eye specialist may also advise Punctal Occlusion in which the tiny openings in the corners of the eyes through which the tears emerge are blocked. This procedure reduces the flow of tears from the eyes by blocking the tear drainage pipe. It is perfectly safe and painless.
During pregnancy, 5% of women suffer from water retention or preeclampsia around the 20th week of gestation which results in swollen feet, arms, fingers and face. This can thicken the cornea and alter the surface of the eye causing vision problems. After childbirth, the vision usually returns back to normal. If the symptoms persist for several weeks after childbirth, you may be prescribed glasses or corrective contact lenses.
Pre-existing diabetes can damage the blood vessels in the eyes and worsen the condition into diabetic retinopathy. Symptoms may include blurry vision, dark spots, and impaired colour vision. Gestational diabetes can also cause these flare-ups but disappear after childbirth. In rare cases, it can worsen into a retinal detachment.
Do not ignore any of these conditions. Consult an eye specialist at once. It is important to increase your intake of green leafy vegetables, nuts, fruits and fish such as salmon and sardines to look after your eyes, just as you look after the rest of your body. Get sufficient rest, stay hydrated and visit your doctor to keep your eye health in check.
Complete Optical, Mississauga
We have been a leading provider of quality vision care products and personalized optometric services to our patients in Mississauga and the surrounding areas for over 20 years. Book an eye exam to get your vision tested during pregnancy and order high-quality prescription glasses, sunglasses or contacts whenever required.