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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.

Can Smoking Affect My Eyes?

Smoking has a variety of adverse effects on the body and the eyes are no exception. It is often a risk factor for developing several diseases or exacerbates existing conditions. Here are some of the interactions that smoking has with the health of your eyes.

Smoking Worsens Macular Degeneration (ARMD)

Smoking is one of the main modifiable changes to prevent age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) development and progression. In ARMD, the nerve fiber at the back of the eye, the retina, is damaged. Specifically, this disease involves damage to the macula, the portion of the area on the retina that is responsible for your central vision. This results in loss of vision centrally and currently, there is no treatment that can reverse this disease. Various studies have shown that smokers are more likely to develop ARMD compared to non-smokers.

Smoking Can Cause Cataracts

A cataract is the clouding and yellowing of the lens within your eye. This lens is responsible for focusing light on the nerve fiber layer at the back of the eye. The clouding causes people to experience blurry vision, glare, and a dimming effect with a diminished ability to distinguish colors. The change occurs gradually and the treatment includes cataract surgery to remove and replace the lens within the eye. Smoking increases the risk of developing cataracts and increases the likelihood that surgery will be needed sooner.

 

Glaucoma

Smoking is a risk factor for developing glaucoma as well. Glaucoma involves the loss of peripheral vision due to changes to the optic nerve at the back of the eye. The optic nerve transmits information from the eye to the brain and thus damage to this area will have detrimental effects on vision.

 

Diabetic Retinopathy and Cigarettes

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) refers to damage to the back of the eye as a result of diabetes. In DR, the blood vessels at the back of the eye are damaged and are leaky. This can result in hemorrhages and can cause swelling. This can blur and distort vision, ultimately leading to blindness if left untreated. Cigarette smoke can increase the likelihood of blockages in the blood vessels and the dysfunction of the vessel walls. This can in turn increase the chance of leakage of blood or the formation of excess and weak blood vessels that can cause permanent damage to the eye.

Dry Eye Disease is Exacerbated by Smoking

Dry eye disease could easily be exacerbated by the smoke produced by cigarettes. The smoke contains many chemicals and debris that can enter the eye, irritating and drying out the tear film that lubricates the front surface of the eye. Secondhand smokers will often also be consistently affected by this and unfortunately can develop dry eye disease as well. Symptoms include irritated, red, gritty, and itchy eyes.

 

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 how smoking 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, and Southside Commons (Southside Place) vicinities of Houston, Texas.

Treating Dry Eye Disease

We know that there are many factors that cause or worsen the symptoms of dry eye disease.  So what do you do when you start to notice those uncomfortable symptoms, like burning, redness, grittiness, or even watery eyes?  Treating dry eye disease and its underlying causes often requires a longtime approach to help improve the health of the eyes while also reduce the symptoms.  Here we have outlined some of the most common treatment options for dry eye disease. 

 

Artificial Tears

Artificial tears are lubricating eye drops that can be purchased without a prescription at any drug store or pharmacy.  They are typically the first option used in the treatment of dry eye disease. Lubricating artificial tears contain ingredients that nourish and protect the front surface of the eye, reducing the uncomfortable symptoms of dry eyes.  Artificial tears come in many different varieties, and some are meant to target specific underlying causes of dryness. For example, there are lipid-based artificial tears which can help replace the oil layer of the tears in people affected by Meibomian gland dysfunction.  Preservative-free lubricating drops, which come in small single dose vials and contain no additives, are another option. For people with certain preservative sensitivities, or those who need to use lubricating drops many times throughout the day, the preservative free option may be best.  There are also gel based artificial tears, which are a thicker consistency than normal lubricating drops. The gel can last longer on the front of the eye and provide extended relief of dry eye symptoms, and many people prefer to use gel drops at night. If you have questions about which type of artificial tear is best for you, ask your optometrist. 

 

Proper Eyelid Hygiene

As you know, the eyelids can play a big role in dry eye disease.  Conditions like blepharitis and Meibomian gland dysfunction can cause or worsen the condition.  Maintaining proper eye lid hygiene is necessary for those affected by these conditions. This includes thoroughly washing the eyelids daily to remove any debris or bacteria.  Lid scrubs can be done with warm water and a safe soap, or with a commercially prepared lid wipe that is designed to be safe and effective. The use of warm compresses can also be important, especially if there is an underlying problem with the Meibomian glands.  The heat from warm compresses promotes a healthy tear film by preventing the oils in these glands from clogging up. To perform a warm compress, apply a warm washcloth or a commercially designed heated mask to the eyelids for 10-15 minutes several times daily.  

 

Medications for Treating Dry Eye Disease

For those with moderate or severe cases of dry eye disease, over-the-counter artificial tears and eyelid care may not be enough.  These people may need to use medicated eye drops, or even oral medications, to address their symptoms of dry eye disease. Some eye drops such as Restasis or Xiidra are long-term dry eye treatments that reduce inflammation on the front of the eye and improve comfort.  For some, a course of oral antibiotics may be necessary to clear up any eyelid bacteria that can be worsening symptoms. 

 

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 treating dry eye disease.  Our eye doctor, Dr. Jonathan Tsao, provides the highest quality optometry services  and eye exams in Houston and Midtown Texas area.

Understanding Dry Eye Disease 

Dry eye disease is one of the most common ocular conditions affecting people of all ages.  Many individuals experience the uncomfortable symptoms of irritation, redness, burning, and grittiness, and treating these symptoms is not easy.  To effectively manage dry eye disease, you must first understand the underlying cause. For most people, dry eyes are caused by a condition known as Meibomian gland dysfunction.  Continue reading to learn about how Meibomain gland dysfunction effects your eyes.   

 

What is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

Meibomian gland dysfunction, or MGD, is the leading reason for dry eyes.  It is caused when the millions of glands that line our eyelids are not properly working.  These glands, called the Meibomian glands, are responsible for releasing a clear oil into our tear film.  The oil, also referred to as meibum, is what keeps our tears stable and prevents them from immediately evaporating from the front surface of the eye.  Without the oil layer of the tear film the front of the eye is left unnourished and unprotected, and symptoms such as burning, grittiness, or redness will arise.  

 

Causes of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction 

The Meibomian glands can become dysfunctional for a wide variety of reasons.  Most commonly, Meibomian glands become less effective over time and MGD arises as we age.  They can also be blocked or clogged by debris, makeup, or flaky skin. The glands may become inflamed due to underlying autoimmune conditions, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or Sjogren’s syndrome, or inflammation can arise due to another eye condition known as blepharitis.  Contact lens wear may affect the glands of some individuals and increase the risk of MGD. Ocular allergies or infections can also prevent Meibomian glands from working properly. It is important to take a good look at overall health and consider all the potential causes that could be contributing to Meibomian gland dysfunction when deciding how to treat the condition.  

 

Medical Treatment of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction 

Treating MGD requires a long-term and chronic approach.  One of the most important aspects is improving the health of the Meibomian glands.  In some cases, this can easily be done by performing nightly lid scrubs and warm compresses.  There are many commercially-prepared products, from lid wipes to heat masks, that if used routinely, can help improve the health of the eyelids.  If your doctor determines that your case of MGD is moderate to severe, they may prescribe a short course of oral antibiotics, topical steroids, or medicated ointments to address the underlying cause and improve the comfort of your eyes.  Most people who are affected by Meibomian gland dysfunction rely on lubricating artificial tears to help improve the symptoms associated with MGD and dry eyes disease. Some artificial tears are “lipid based” and are specifically designed to help improve the health and comfort of the eye’s surface in people affected by MGD.

Meibomian gland dysfunction can be diagnosed during a routine eye examination, and can be treated and followed by your optometrist.  Your doctor can look closely at your eyelids and Meibomian glands to determine what may be contributing to your symptoms, and they can help formulate the most appropriate treatment plan for you based on their exam findings.  

 

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 be meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) or dry eye symptoms.  Our eye doctor, Dr. Jonathan Tsao, provides the highest quality optometry services  and eye exams in Houston and Midtown Texas area.

Digital Screens and Computer Vision Syndrome

For many people, extensive use of digital screens is an important part of maintaining a professional or personal life.  Unfortunately, extended and uninterrupted screen time using computers, tablets, or smart phones may cause a group of symptoms known as Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain.  The more time spent viewing digital screens, the worse the symptoms of this condition may be. Computer Vision Syndrome is becoming increasingly common. In fact, research suggests that the vast majority of people who use computers or other digital screens show some degree of symptoms associated with the condition. Continue reading to learn more about how Computer Vision Syndrome may be affecting your eyes. 

 

What are the Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome?

Computer Vision Syndrome, also called CVS, can cause a wide range of symptoms.  Most commonly, people affected by this condition can experience blurred vision, eye fatigue or strain, and dry uncomfortable eyes. In more severe cases, symptoms can include headaches or double vision.  Using digital screens late at night can also disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythm and may result in difficulty sleeping. The more time spent using digital screens, the more likely the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome are to be severe and bothersome.  For some people, these symptoms improve when they stop using a screen, but for others the symptoms can persist long after screen use has stopped. Those people may need to turn to other options for relieving the symptoms of CVS.

 

Specialized Computer Glasses

Eyestrain and fatigue is one of the most common symptoms associated with prolonged computer use. These symptoms occur because working on a computer or other digital screens in close proximity creates a lot of extra work for the focusing system of the eye. If you frequently experience this eye strain, a prescription can be written for specialized computer glasses to help improve visual comfort.  A computer prescription can be determined during a comprehensive eye examination, and will take into account factors like your traditional glasses prescription and the distance you sit from your screen.  These glasses can be made in a wide variety of lens designs, including progressive or bifocal glasses for those who view digital screens at a range of distances. They can also incorporate blue-blocking lenses to reduce additional eye fatigue associated with screen use.   

 

Treating Digital Dryness

When we look at digital screens, we tend to blink less often than normal.  This reduced rate of blinking leads to uncomfortable symptoms of dryness and irritation.  To address these symptoms of CVS, ask your optometrist for recommendations for a lubricating eye drop.  These over-the-counter artificial tears can be used during and after using digital screens to nourish the front surface of the eye and reduce discomfort associated with prolonged screen use. 

 

Remember to Take a Break from Digital Screens

As we have discussed, using digital screens for a long period of time can place a burden on the focusing system of the eye.  In addition to specialized computer glasses, one way to reduce eyestrain associated digital screens is to periodically give your focusing system a break.  To do this, try following the “20-20-20 rule.” This rule states that for every 20 minutes, you should look at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.  This temporary change in focus helps relieve the visual system and can reduce symptoms such as blurred vision, eyestrain, and headaches.  

If you are affected by Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain, make an appointment with one of our optometrists to discuss your symptoms and determine a treatment plan.

 

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 be evaluated computer vision syndrome or for us to help with the visual requirements of your digital screens.  Our eye doctor, Dr. Jonathan Tsao, provides the highest quality optometry services  and eye exams in Houston and Midtown Texas area.