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How Pregnancy Can Affect Your Eyesight

Pregnancy can impact almost every part of a woman’s body and health — including her eyes. In fact, an estimated 14% of pregnant women report experiencing visual changes during pregnancy that usually resolve on their own within a couple of months after giving birth. 

Knowing the different visual symptoms that can present when you’re expecting can help alert you to potential underlying health concerns that your physician may need to address. 

Normal Visual Changes During Pregnancy

Blurred Vision

Blurred vision is the most common visual symptom that pregnant women may experience. Hormonal fluctuations are usually to blame for the temporary decrease in visual acuity, and your eyesight will likely return to normal soon after giving birth. 

The influx of pregnancy hormones causes fluid retention in some areas of the body and can cause the cornea to thicken slightly. As a result, the light entering the eye isn’t focused accurately and vision may be blurred. 

Less commonly, blurred vision can signal gestational diabetes, a pregnancy complication affecting 6-9% of pregnant women. The rise in blood sugar level impacts the focusing lens of the eye, leading to blurry vision. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, including gestational diabetes, it’s a good idea to book an eye exam to monitor for retinal changes.

Blurred vision is also a common side effect of dry eye syndrome, a condition characterized by tears that don’t adequately lubricate the eyes, which can be brought on or exacerbated by pregnancy. 

Eye Dryness

Pregnancy hormones can cause a reduction in the amount of tears your eyes produce or affect the quality of the tears. These changes can affect a woman throughout her entire pregnancy, but studies show that eye dryness is particularly common in the last trimester. For this reason, some women find it difficult to wear contact lenses in their third trimester and temporarily switch to glasses. 

Eye Puffiness

Yet another body part that swells during pregnancy: the eyelids and tissues around the eyes. 

Pregnancy-related water retention may cause your eyelids to appear puffier than during your pre-pregnancy days. You may also notice darker areas under the eyes. If your puffy eyes bother you, try limiting your salt and caffeine intake, as they can worsen the problem. 

Visual Changes That May Indicate a Problem

The following visual changes warrant a prompt call to your eye doctor or obstetrician to rule out any underlying complications. 

Flashes or floaters

Seeing stars during pregnancy can signal high blood pressure, which is associated with preeclampsia — a serious medical condition that requires close monitoring by your physician and possible treatment. 

It’s crucial to have your blood pressure monitored throughout your pregnancy, as preeclampsia can potentially endanger the life of mother and child, as well as damage the cornea and retina. 

Temporary vision loss

Temporary vision loss is concerning for pregnant and non-pregnant individuals. Vision loss is another warning sign of preeclampsia, so contact your doctor promptly if you suddenly lose any portion of your visual field. 

Sensitivity to light

Light-sensitivity can either be a normal side effect of fluid retention in the eye, or it can signal dangerously high blood pressure and preeclampsia. 

How We Can Help

At ​​Dr. Alan Schlussel & Associates, our goal is to keep your vision and eyes healthy throughout your pregnancy and beyond. If you experience any visual symptoms, we can help by thoroughly examining your eyes to determine the underlying cause and provide you with guidance on what next steps to take. 

Pregnancy is a wonderful time, when self care should be at the forefront — and that includes comprehensive eye care. 

To schedule an eye exam or learn more about our eye care services, call Dr. Alan Schlussel & Associates in Manhattan today!

 

Q&A

Why are regular eye exams important? 

Having your eyes evaluated by an optometrist on a regular basis is crucial for detecting early signs of eye diseases and changes in your prescription, including during pregnancy. Many serious eye diseases don’t cause any noticeable symptoms until they’ve progressed to late stages, when damage to vision may be irreversible. Whether or not you wear glasses or contact lenses for vision correction, ask your optometrist about how often to schedule a routine eye exam. 

Will my baby need an eye exam after  birth? 

According to the American Optometric Association and the Canadian Association of Optometrists, babies should have an eye exam within the first 6-12 months of life, even in the absence of noticeable vision problems. Healthy vision is a significant part of healthy overall development, so be sure not to skip your baby’s eye exams! 

5 Ways to Set Up Your Home Computer to Reduce Eye Strain

Dr. Alan Schlussel & Associates | Computer Glasses in Manhattan

Nearly 60% of people who routinely use computers or digital devices experience symptoms of digital eye strain — also called computer vision syndrome — according to recent data. Since COVID-19 began, the number of hours spent on a computer for tasks like working from home, online schooling, and online shopping has increased dramatically.

Symptoms of computer eye strain include eye fatigue and discomfort, dry eye, headaches, blurred vision, neck and shoulder pain, eye twitching, and red eyes.

If your eyes feel dry and tired, your vision is blurry by the end of the day, or your head, neck, and shoulders ache, the way you utilize your computer and other digital devices might be to blame.

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How to Reduce Eye Strain

Spending less time in front of your computer is the best way to reduce digital eye strain, but if you’re working from home or you or your children are learning online, that might not be an option.

Here are 5 steps you can take to lower your risk of eye strain:

1. Use proper lighting

Excessively bright light, either from sunlight or from interior lighting, can cause eye strain.

By reducing exterior light (by closing your drapes, shades or blinds), and tweaking the lighting inside your home (using fewer light bulbs or fluorescent tubes, or lower intensity bulbs and tubes) you can lower glare and reflections off the screen.

Also, if possible, position your computer screen so the windows are to the side, instead of in front or behind it.

2. Blink more often

When staring at a screen, people blink one-third less frequently than they normally do. Blinking moistens your eyes to prevent dryness and irritation.

To reduce your risk of dry eye during computer use, every 20 minutes blink 10 times by closing your eyes very slowly. This will lubricate your eyes and help prevent dry eye.

3. Relax your eyes

Constantly staring at a computer screen can lead to focusing fatigue, which causes digital eye strain. To reduce your risk of tiring your eyes, look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds.

Some eye doctors call this the “20-20-20 rule.” Looking far away relaxes the focusing lens inside the eye to reduce fatigue.

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Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Our Manhattan eye doctor has prepared the following answers to your questions about eye disease.

4. Take frequent breaks

Taking frequent breaks from your screen can help reduce eye strain and neck, back and shoulder pain during your workday.

It is recommended to take at least one 10-minute break every hour. During these breaks, stand up, move about and stretch your arms, legs, back, neck and shoulders to reduce tension and muscle aches.

5. Modify your workstation

Poor posture also contributes to digital eye strain. Adjust your workstation and chair to the correct height so your monitor is not too close to, or too far from your eyes, or in a position that causes you to crane your neck.

Position your computer screen so it’s 20 to 24 inches from your eyes. The center of your screen should be about 10 to 15 degrees below your eyes for comfortable positioning of your head and neck. With this adjustment, you will not only reduce neck, back, and shoulder pain, but reduce eye strain as well.

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People experience different levels of digital eye strain, so if after you have shut down your computer the symptoms persist, then you may have a visual problem that requires attention from your eye doctor. If these symptoms are ignored and nothing is done to alleviate the eye strain the problem will only worsen.

Having a yearly checkup can help you preserve your eye health. Contact Dr. Alan Schlussel & Associates to learn more about how to keep your eyes healthy and reduce eye strain when working on computers.

Call Dr. Alan Schlussel & Associates on 212-683-2004 to schedule an eye exam with our Manhattan optometrist.

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