2 essential tips for maintaining eye health during pregnancy

Essential tips for maintaining eye health during pregnancy
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Maintaining eye health during pregnancy is crucial, and it involves adjusting your usual eye care routines to accommodate the changes your body undergoes. Written by Inge Loubser of The Mellins Full Service Optometry Group.

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Inge Loubser, a senior optometrist at Mellins i-Style and expert for BabyYumYum emphasises the importance of always letting your optometrist know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding during an eye examination.

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, certain eye tests and treatments may need to be modified for your eye health. For instance, your optometrist might avoid using dilating eye drops, as some chemicals in these drops can be absorbed into breast milk. Always ensure your optometrist is aware of your condition to tailor their approach appropriately. 

Pregnancy, eye health and contact lenses

If you’re used to wearing contact lenses, you may start to feel a certain discomfort as your eyes change shape during pregnancy. Pregnant women often have problems with dry eyes and ill-fitting contact lenses. However, as your eyes and cornea will more than likely change back to their original shape after the pregnancy, your optometrist will look for a solution that will correct your vision temporarily.

If you prefer wearing contact lenses, it’s essential to have your eyes checked. Your optometrist can measure your refractive power and help you choose a new pair of contact lenses that fit comfortably and correct your vision during pregnancy. They may recommend contact lenses designed for dry eyes or suggest using rewetting drops that are safe for use during pregnancy.

However, the simplest solution may be to wear your spectacles. It’s important to schedule an eye examination before purchasing new spectacles since pregnancy can alter the shape of your eyes and affect your vision. Your optometrist will ensure your prescription is accurate, taking into account the temporary changes your eyes may undergo. Additionally, schedule another eye examination after your baby is born to reassess your vision needs, as your eyes will likely return to their pre-pregnancy state.

Tips for pregnant women to keep their eyes healthy

Maintaining a healthy diet for eye health

A balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals is crucial for overall health, including eye health. Nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins C and E, zinc, and lutein support eye health. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish in your diet. These foods provide essential nutrients to maintain healthy eyes and reduce the risk of eye problems during pregnancy.

Tips for pregnant women to keep their eyes healthy:

  • Fluid retention – swelling and fluid retention is a normal part of pregnancy but it can cause puffiness around the eyes and even change the shape and thickness of the cornea (the transparent layer forming the front of the eye). This can sometimes limit your peripheral or side vision. 
  • To reduce the swelling, try applying cold compresses e.g. a clean, wet washcloth with cold water or a cool gel pack over your closed eyes. Splashing cold water over your face may also help.
  • Hormonal changes and dry eyes – due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, the body’s natural ability to produce tears can be inhibited. Ask your optometrist to recommend over-the-counter eye drops for dry eyes that are safe to use while you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Some may contain chemicals that could be harmful during pregnancy. If you wear contact lenses, these could be uncomfortable if you have dry eyes during pregnancy. 
  • So, try wearing them for shorter periods of time. Wearing your spectacle lenses while you are pregnant is a good solution. And be sure to blink often, especially when using a computer or Smartphone.

Regular check-ups with your optometrist, being mindful of dry eyes and fluid retention, and switching to spectacles if necessary can help keep your eyes healthy and comfortable during this unique time. Always consult with your optometrist to ensure any treatments or products you use are safe for you and your baby. By following these tips and staying proactive about your eye health, you can enjoy a healthy and comfortable pregnancy.

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