Eye care during pregnancy

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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.

In certain cases, your optometrist may avoid using dilating eye drops or other tests, as some of the chemicals in eye drops that are used to dilate the eyes can be absorbed into the breast milk.

Pregnancy 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, you must get your eyes checked. Your optometrist can measure your refractive power and help you select a new pair of contact lenses that will fit your eyes and correct your vision during pregnancy.

The obvious solution is to wear your spectacles. It is important that you schedule an eye examination before buying a new pair of spectacles since the shape of your eyes has changed and your vision (or refractive power) may be different, so be sure to schedule another eye examination after your baby is born.

 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. Therefore, 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.