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Expecting Change: How Pregnancy Can Affect Your Eyes

Expecting Change: How Pregnancy Can Affect Your Eyes

The common discomforts of pregnancy include aches and pains, nausea, weight gain, and trouble sleeping. Most women expect these changes, but they are surprised to discover that pregnancy affects their vision as well.

Pregnancy can have a pronounced influence on your eye health. Some changes are benign, and they will go away after you deliver your baby. However, some vision changes are signs of more serious problems. Here are some common changes to expect, what they mean, and what you can do about them.

Moisture Changes

Dry eyes are normally caused by insufficient tear production from one the glands in your eye. Tears consist of three components: lipids (fats), mucus, and water. These three components work together to hydrate the eye while washing away particulates. When any of these components are lacking, the eyes become dry and irritated.

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect the production and composition of tears. Usually, the reduction in androgens, a type of hormone, is the root cause. Fortunately, you don’t have to live with dry eyes forever. Your hormones balance out after the birth of your baby, and your eyes will return to their usual moist state.

In the meantime, visit your eye doctor for artificial tears to help alleviate the symptoms of dryness. If you wear contacts, it might be best to switch to glasses during your pregnancy, since wearing contacts can make already dry eyes feel even worse. You can also try:

  • Blinking more often. Sometimes when you stare at a screen for a long period of time, like during a movie, you blink infrequently. This can increase the severity of dry eye symptoms. Restrict your screen time when you can, and remind yourself to blink when enjoying a show or working at your desk.
  • Putting a humidifier in your home or workplace. Dry air will evaporate tears from the surface of your eye more quickly. If you live in a dry environment, a humidifier will help increase your comfort.
  • Wearing sunglasses or other eye protection when traveling through smoky, dusty, or polluted air. Your tears have to work harder to keep your eyes clean in dirtier air. If your tear production is reduced, your dry eye symptoms will flare up.

Cigarette smoke can also make dry eyes worse. Contact your doctor about quitting for your baby’s health as well as for the health of your eyes.

Pressure Changes

As your pregnancy progresses, your total blood volume increases. You also retain more fluids. Both of these increase the blood pressure in all your blood vessels, even the capillaries in your eyes. Most of the time, the extra pressure does not affect your eye health. But it can be a risk for women who:

  • Have diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is affected by blood pressure, and it can progress more quickly with the increased pressure from pregnancy. If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you are at risk for retinopathy, even though you are not normally diabetic.
  • Develop preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Early symptoms include vision disturbances, like seeing spots, from dangerously high blood pressure. Vision disturbance should never be ignored when you are pregnant. Seek emergency medical care, as this condition is fatal if not treated.
  • Have a preexisting eye condition like glaucoma. Increased blood pressure in the eye can increase the onset of symptoms of preexisting eye conditions. Left unchecked, this increased blood pressure can lead to vision loss.

Talk to your doctor immediately if you experience extreme changes in vision. If you have a pre-existing condition that affects your eyes, your optometrist should closely monitor your eye health during your pregnancy.

Refractive Changes

Some women who wear glasses or contacts experience changes in their prescription during pregnancy. Hormone levels can affect the shape and curve of your cornea, which results in blurriness or even partial vision loss. You may need to order new glasses to last during your pregnancy, or opt for contacts that are easily replaced with pairs of different strengths.

You should expect your vision to change again after delivery. Even though you may want to go get new glasses as soon as your baby is born, it’s usually better to wait a few months, because hormone levels can still be affected by breastfeeding. Even if you choose not to breastfeed, it still takes several weeks for postpartum hormones to fully balance out.

External Changes

Even if you have no dryness or vision changes, the exterior of your eyes can still be affected. Some women experience puffiness in the eyelids and facial tissue because of fluid retention. Depending on the severity of the swelling, it can affect your peripheral vision.

This is a temporary problem. Soothe puffy eyelids with warm or cool compresses and be sure to get rest when you can. Drinking plenty of water and reducing sodium can also help reduce fluid retention.

 

Visit us at All About Eyes for more information about pregnancy and eye health. Our team of optometrists can provide the care you need.

3 Ways to Avoid Digital Eye Strain

3 Ways to Avoid Digital Eye Strain

It was only a matter of time until an eye syndrome would develop that’s directly related to the modern human habit of staring relentlessly at computer and device screens for hours on end. This contemporary eye syndrome affects those who focus on screens all day as part of their jobs or studies. It also impacts the eyesight and eye comfort of those who look at their phones for hours on end.

Regardless of the cause, digital eye strain (DES) is a very real phenomenon that’s been reported by 31 percent of Americans and over twice as many millennials. The condition is also called “computer vision syndrome,” and it’s not fun.

Understand the Causes of DES

There isn’t one reason why your eyes may start to feel dry and itchy after staring at your computer all day. There isn’t one easy-to-pinpoint reason why your eyesight gets blurry after scrolling through social media on your tablet all evening. The truth is, there are multiple reasons why your device usage is impacting your vision and eye comfort.

Once a proper eye exam rules out problems like glaucoma, myopia, and astigmatism, you must address vision-impacting issues in your workspace. Are you sitting too close to the screen? Experts advise being at least an arm’s length away.

You may need to view text in a larger font or adjust the height of your desk, chair, or computer screen. What’s the angle at which you view your device? Aim for a downward angle from your eyes to your device, usually an angle of about 15 or 20 degrees. Sit up straight, making sure you aren’t having to slouch or stretch to see your monitor.

Stock Up on Items to Reduce DES

Special glasses definitely help, but you may need to invest in some other helpful items to reduce the likelihood or impact of DES. Since excessive glare is one cause of computer vision syndrome, reduce the glare in your environment with room-blocking curtains.

If a lamp is the source of glare, purchase a darker lampshade or move the lamp to a spot where it doesn’t beam onto your screen. Purchase monitor- and device-friendly wipes to keep screens free of smudges and debris.

Next time you’re at the pharmacy, grab some gel-filled eye masks you put in the fridge for a cooling eye refresher. Ask your optometrist to recommend eye drops that help keep your eyes moist. If you have allergies, take steps to reduce pollen in your environment, and remember to take your antihistamine as prescribed.

Wear Your Computer Glasses

You can purchase specialty computer glasses or have your eye doctor create a custom pair of glasses for you. These glasses have features such as anti-glare lenses and lenses that filter out the blue light emitted by devices.

Many computer glasses are tinted yellow. This helps increase the contrast between letters and backgrounds on device screens. There are also progressive lenses available that let you go from looking at a computer to reading a book or viewing something in the distance easily.

But the glasses won’t work if you don’t wear them. If possible, leave one pair of computer glasses at home and one pair at work so you always have some at hand.

Compromise to Save Your Eyes

Set limits on yourself when using your PC or devices. Go beyond the 20-20-20 rule, which is the advice to take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes. Give your eyes routine breaks from devices altogether.

Get out in nature without your phone, or go for a walk without your tablet, and let your eyes take in all of the world around you. By letting your eyes enjoy periodic vacations from the little screens in your life, you exercise your eye muscles. They grow stronger when you look at clouds, skyscrapers, and faraway mountains.

Remember to blink when looking at your devices too. Because of the way people read text on computers, they tend to blink their eyes far less often. This is one of the reasons your eyes may dry out and grow itchy after looking at your phone or laptop for a long time. By blinking, you refresh your eyes with natural lubricant.

In most cases, DES resolves itself once you take a rest period away from screens. Computer glasses often help when you must stare at a device for long periods. If your problem is due to another underlying eye problem, specialty treatment or glasses for that problem may resolve the DES too.

Vision therapy is sometimes prescribed for people who have difficulty with focus and depth perception. A simple pair of glasses is not enough to fix these problems or problems related to weakness or degeneration of eye muscles.

If you suspect you’re suffering from DES or computer vision syndrome, contact the vision experts at All About Eyes to schedule a complete eye exam. We diagnose and help correct vision issues from DES to nearsightedness with stylish and protective prescription eyewear.

 

Optician, Optometrist, and Ophthalmologist: What’s the Difference?

Optician, Optometrist, and Ophthalmologist: What’s the Difference?

When your eyes start to give you trouble, you know you should see an eye doctor as soon as possible to diagnose and fix the problem. However, you’ve likely heard different terms for eye experts: optician, optometrist, and ophthalmologist.

You may not know the difference between these three professions, but understanding what each of these experts do and how they can assist you with your eye health is crucial. In fact, each of these eye professionals performs different jobs and can only assist with certain aspects of your eye health.

Read below to learn more about opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists so you can determine who you should see for certain eye-related issues.

Opticians

While opticians are eye experts in their own rights, they don’t deal specifically with your eyes. Rather, they design, fit, and dispense prescription eyeglasses to patients. These professionals also analyze prescriptions and create lenses that perfectly fit those vision requirements. In an office, they work one-on-one with a patient to ensure that the patient’s chosen glasses rest appropriately on the nose and ears.

Additionally, opticians ensure that the overall fit of the glasses isn’t too loose or too tight. Since too-loose glasses can slide off your face and too-tight frames can pinch and cause headaches, you want to spend as much time as necessary with your optician to guarantee that your glasses rest where they should and feel comfortable as you wear them.

If you have any issues with your glasses after you leave your eye doctor’s office, an optician can help you repair or replace the lenses and frames. For example, if you notice your frames feel a little too tight or loose after you’ve worn them for a few months, your optician can readjust them so they fit properly again. Likewise, if you lose the screws in the hinges of the frame’s arms, an optician can make the necessary repairs.

Opticians also handle contact lenses and give them to patients who choose to wear these specific corrective lenses.

Opticians go through technical training or on-the-job programs to gain the skill and experience they need to perform their jobs properly.

Optometrists

Optometrists are the eye professionals you most often deal with when you have vision problems. These experts manage all aspects of primary eye care, including vision testing and diagnosing, treating, and managing vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Optometrists also prescribe corrective lenses and medications necessary for correcting vision.

These experts undergo a traditional college education followed by four years of optometry school. Once their training is complete, they receive a doctor of optometry degree (OD) and can work with patients as their primary eye care provider. As they continue to work in this medical field, optometrists continue their education by attending classes or participating in seminars so they can maintain their certification.

If you’ve noticed any changes in your vision, require medication to treat an eye condition, or require vision aids, an optometrist is the eye professional you want to see.

Ophthalmologists

Of all the medical professionals who manage eye health, ophthalmologists have the highest level of education and can perform more extensive work on patients.

Ophthalmologists, after receiving a traditional undergraduate education, attend medical school, participate in a one-year internship, and complete at least a three-year residency program. After they complete this formal educational and hands-on training, they are then certified to work on more severe eye problems.

In addition to providing typical vision services like eye exams and diagnosing vision problems and conditions, ophthalmologists may also provide:

  • Treatment for chemical burns, glaucoma, and iritis
  • Surgery for cataracts, crossed eyes, or trauma
  • Plastic surgery to correct conditions like droopy eyelids

Your optometrist may refer you to an ophthalmologist to properly and correctly diagnose eye conditions. If you are referred to an ophthalmologist for diagnosis or treatment, this specialist may require you to follow up with your optometrist to ensure that your eye health is in the best condition possible.

Additionally, an ophthalmologist can correct your vision permanently through corrective surgery. For example, if you don’t wish to use contacts or glasses to see clearly, you can make an appointment with an ophthalmologist to first determine if you’re a good candidate for a surgery like LASIK and then to undergo that surgery.

If you aren’t a good candidate for this kind of vision-correcting surgery, your ophthalmologist can advise you on the next best treatment so you can see clearly with minimal interruption to your daily life.

 

If you need to schedule an eye exam or get your current or new glasses fitted properly, schedule an appointment with All About Eyes. We ensure that your eye health is well cared for, and we’ll provide any professional advice and services that will allow you to see clearly and feel confident in your vision.

Have questions about which eye professional you need to see? Want to know more about how we can help you specifically? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.