Dry Eyes During Pregnancy: Symptoms, Causes And Home Remedies

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Dry eyes during pregnancy could be more common due to the various hormonal changes experienced by a woman. Dry eyes occur when there are inadequate tears to lubricate the eyes, or the tears do not function adequately, leading to irritation and even pain in the eyes (1). Although the condition should not affect pregnancy, it could be a nuisance due to the constant irritation (2).

Read on to know the various symptoms, treatments, and home remedies for dry eyes in pregnancy.

Symptoms Of Dry Eyes During Pregnancy

People with dry eyes may experience one or more of the following symptoms with varying degrees of severity (1).

  • Itchy eyes
  • Frequent blinking
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Sharp stinging or scratching
  • Burning of the eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Watery eyes
  • Dried mucus or sticky fluid in the corners of the eyes
  • General discomfort in the eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • A feeling of something stuck in the eyes
  • Pain while wearing lenses.

Causes Of Dry Eyes During Pregnancy

Tears are made up of three layers: oil, water, and mucus. A deficiency or a problem in any of these layers can lead to dry eyes (1).

While the exact cause of dry eyes in pregnancy is unknown, a study has proved that the incidence of dry eyes is highest in the third trimester and lowest six weeks after delivery (3).

Hormonal changes of pregnancy cause an increased immune reaction in the lacrimal duct cells of the eyes, leading to dry eyes (1) (4).

The following are the common causes of dry eyes (1).

  • Medications: Antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants.
  • Environmental conditions: Exposure to smoke, wind, dry environment, first or secondhand cigarette smoke, and long working hours on a computer screen.
  • Medical conditions: Systemic medical conditions include diabetes mellitus, thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and previous eye surgeries such as corneal transplantation (5).
  • Other factors include long-term use of contact lenses, refractive eye surgeries such as LASIK.

Safe Home Remedies For Dry Eyes During Pregnancy

The following home remedies can help you manage dry eyes during pregnancy (6).

  • Wash your eyes well with clean water frequently.
  • Avoid high direct airflow from fans, air conditioners, heaters, hairdryers, etc.
  • Reduce screen time
  • Use humidifiers to prevent the air from becoming too dry.
  • Avoid irritating topical agents around the eyes such as creams, lotions, etc.
  • Use artificial tears drops
  • Maintain optimal lid hygiene
  • Consume essential fatty acids in natural forms such as fish, or ask your doctor to prescribe safe supplements.
  • Use sunglasses to protect eyes from the harsh sun or dry eyes
  • Do warm compresses
  • Massage eyelids
  • Avoid eye cosmetics that may irritate the eyes.

Treatment For Dry Eyes In Pregnancy

If other home remedies do not work, the doctor may recommend the following treatment options.

  • Prescription drugs: The doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory or antibiotic drugs to treat the inflammation in the eye. Refrain from using them without your doctor’s advice as they could be harmful. The doctor will weigh risks and benefits before prescribing them. You may also be prescribed prescription strength eye lubricants to avoid dryness of the eyes (4).
  • Tear plugs: Tear plugs or punctal plugs are tiny devices placed in the eye’s tear ducts. They help prevent fluid drainage from the eye, thereby keeping the eyes moist and comfortable (7).
  • Steroids: Low-dose steroid drops help treat dry eyes in pregnant women (8).
  • Moisture goggles: These are protective eyewear to help preserve the moisture in the eyes (9).
  • Surgery: The doctor may perform surgery to seal off the tear ducts permanently. However, this would be performed if the other treatments do not work (1).

It is recommended to consult your doctor if you notice any symptoms of dry eyes during pregnancy. Do not use any OTC drugs during pregnancy. Your OB/GYN may refer you to an ophthalmologist to manage the symptoms of dry eyes. Inform your doctor if you have any previous history of dry eyes, eye infections, or eye surgeries for better diagnosis and treatment.

Key Pointers

  • Itching, frequent blinking, redness, and light sensitivity are common symptoms of dry eyes during pregnancy.
  • Certain medications such as decongestants or blood pressure medications, hormonal changes, and exposure to smoke can cause this condition.
  • Taking good eye care and prescription medications such as drops and moisture goggles help reduce dryness in the eyes when pregnant.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Dry eye.
    https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-and-vision-conditions/dry-eye?sso=y
  2. Thelma Larocca Skare; et al; (2012); [Lacrimal dysfunction and pregnancy].
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22584813/
  3. Nwachukwu Nkiru; et al; (2019); Dry eye disease: A longitudinal study among pregnant women in Enugu south east Nigeria.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31077815/
  4. Nursal Melda Yenerel; et al;(2015); Pregnancy and the Eye.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5082244/
  5. Mohammad-Ali Javadi and Sepehr Feizi; Dry Eye Syndrome.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3306104/
  6. Mark I. Golden; et al; (2021); Dry Eye Syndrome.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470411/
  7. Punctal Plugs.
    https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/punctal-plugs
  8. What’s safe—and not so safe—to use in your pregnant patients.
    https://www.eyeworld.org/2007/whats-safe-and-not-so-safe-to-use-in-your-pregnant-patients/
  9. Dry eye.
    https://www.rnib.org.uk/eye-health/eye-conditions/dry-eye
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Dr. Karla S. Sanchez-Banos

(MD)
Dr. Karla S. Sanchez-Banos is a board-licensed Ob/Gyn in Mexico, specializing in Adolescent Gynecology. She is also trained in Gynecological Endocrinology, granted by AMEGIN (Gynecological Endocrinology Mexican Association). Her decade-old experience includes scientific research in teen pregnancy and the use of long-acting reversible contraceptive methods in the adolescent age group.  Dr. Karla currently works in two private medical centers in... more

Dr. Ritika Shah

Dr. Ritika Shah is a dental surgeon with more than seven years of clinical experience across various cities in India. During her clinical practice, pediatric dentistry was her particular area of interest, and she constantly thrived to inculcate the latest advancements in the field of dentistry into her practice. She also holds a certificate in lactation counselling from iNational Health... more