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How Pregnancy Can Affect Your Eyes

In addition to the many other bodily changes taking place during pregnancy, a mom-to-be can also have changes in the eyes. These are usually transient and go back to normal after the pregnancy, but it is wise to keep a close watch on them with an eye examination if changes to vision are occurring. This article will outline some of these possible changes.

Your Glasses Prescription May Change When Pregnant

It is common for the mother to experience blurry vision due to a change in her refractive error, which can also be understood as a change in her degree of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism as measured in her glasses prescription.

This is due to increased fluid retention throughout the body during pregnancy, including within the eye. One location for this is within the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye, causing a change in its thickness and curvature. It can also occur in the natural lens within the eye as well.

This would in turn alter the prescription needed to allow one to see clearly. This change is temporary and will likely return to normal after delivery.

It is common that our optometrist will wait six to nine weeks after delivery to update your prescription for glasses or contact lenses.


Gestational Diabetes Can Occur During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, women can develop gestational diabetes, defined as an increase of glucose in the blood during pregnancy that usually resolves after delivery.

Diabetes on its own can have detrimental effects to the health of the eyes in addition to the rest of the body if it is not well controlled for long periods of time.

Gestational diabetes usually does not get bad enough to cause these changes or symptoms, but it may exacerbate pre-existing diabetes by making blood sugar more difficult to control and regulate.

Other risk factors for diabetic retinopathy include coexisting hypertension, preeclampsia, greater severity and duration of diabetes, etc.

If you have an eye examination during your pregnancy, our eye doctor will find anything out of the ordinary if it is present and manage it accordingly or inform your other doctors of the changes.

Dry Eyes May Also Worsen

As mentioned previously, fluid can accumulate in the cornea during pregnancy, causing a decrease in sensitivity at the front of the eye.

The eyes are thus less responsive to debris or dryness in the eyes, exacerbating the effects of dry eyes due to a lack of activation of the body’s defense responses like tearing.

In addition, pregnancy and its associated hormonal changes disrupt the cells that are responsible for creating the watery fluid that makes up the tear layer.

This is key as it helps keep the eye moisturized, nourished, and healthy overall. Common symptoms of dry eye disease include a gritty, burning feeling and are often transient as well.

Mild dry eyes experienced during pregnancy can be managed with interventions like artificial tears and hot compresses, but there is a lot that can be done if the signs and symptoms are more intense and pose a risk of eye damage. 

Contact lens intolerance may also be experienced, secondary to symptoms associated with dry eye disease. For this reason, it is common to wait six to nine weeks after delivery to get fitted for contact lenses again.


Our eye doctors at Eye Theory in Houston, TX excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrist at 832.831.7386 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to learn more about more ways pregnancy can affect your eyes.  Our eye doctor, Dr. Jonathan Tsao, provides the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in the Midtown, Downtown, Museum District, Montrose, East Downtown, and Southside Commons (Southside Place) vicinities of Houston, Texas.

Diabetes and Your Eyes

Diabetes is becoming an increasingly prevalent problem in the United States, and is expected to become even more common in the upcoming years.  Beyond being an overall health risk, diabetes can pose serious threats to the health of the eyes.  Both Type 1 and type 2 diabetes have the potential to cause sight threatening damage if not properly controlled.  Monitoring blood sugar levels and maintaining control of the condition with options such as diet, exercise, or medication is important.  Those affected by diabetes should work closely with both their primary care doctor and their optometrist to protect their eyes. 


Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes can cause a multitude of problems in the eyes, but one of the most common and concerning complications is diabetic retinopathy.  This condition affects the retina, which lines the back of the eye and receives all visual information.  The retina receives vital blood flow from lots of small and fragile blood vessels, which can become affected in diabetes if blood sugar levels are poorly controlled.  In mild cases of diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels in the retina may leak, leaving small hemorrhages in the retinal tissue.  If the disease continues to progress, it can lead to areas of the retina losing oxygen, or proteins leaking out of blood vessels and causing large areas of retinal swelling.  Many times, these changes can occur in the retina without causing any significant symptoms until lots of damage has already occurred. In the most severe cases of diabetic retinopathy, complications like retinal detachments can occur.  If not promptly addressed, these severe complications can lead to permanent vision loss. 


Who is at Eye Disease from Diabetes?

There are two main factors that increase the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.  The first is how long the person has been diabetic.  Those who have been diabetic for several decades are more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy than those who have recently been diagnosed.  This is because fluctuations in blood sugar levels can cause damage to blood vessels over long periods of time, and the retinal vessels that have been affected for many years are more likely to be compromised.  The second factor is how well diabetes is controlled.  Diet and exercise are important in keeping blood sugar levels under control, and in many cases medication may also be required.  Following the directions of the primary care doctor or endocrinologist can not only help control diabetes, but it can also help protect the eyes.  


Treating Diabetic Retinopathy 

The most important aspect of preventing or treating vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy is early detection of the condition, which is why routine eye examinations are so important.  Mild cases of diabetic retinopathy may simply be monitored and can improve if the blood sugar becomes better controlled.  In cases of diabetic retinopathy where retinal swelling is affecting vision, treatment options can include injections or laser procedures.  If diabetic retinopathy has resulted in a retinal detachment, then a major surgical procedure may be required in an attempt to preserve vision.  If you have diabetes, working closely with your optometrist and your doctors can help prevent vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.   


Our eye doctor at Eye Theory in Houston, TX excels in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrist at 832.831.7386 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to learn more about diabetes and diabetic retinopathy.  Our eye doctor, Dr. Jonathan Tsao, provides the highest quality optometry services  and eye exams in Houston and Midtown Texas area.