Dry eyes


The information provided below is for readers based in the United States of America. Readers outside of the United States of America should seek the information from local sources.

What is a dry eye during pregnancy?

Dry eye is any condition in which your eyes are not moist enough, due either to a higher-than-normal amount of evaporation of water from the eyes, or an inadequate amount of tear production from glands called lacrimal glands. Reports suggest that pregnant women suffer dysfunction of lacrimal glands, resulting in inadequate tearing, more often than non-pregnant women, and giving birth multiple times increases the tendency to develop dry eyes. There is an extremely wide range of causes underlying dry eyes.

How common are dry eyes during pregnancy?

Females suffer from dry eyes roughly twice as frequently as men. The prevalence of dry eyes also increases with age, so it is more common among older mothers. Some reports suggest that Asian women are more likely than others to suffer from dry eyes. Other factors that increase the risk that youll develop dry eyes include smoking and the use of certain medications, such as cancer chemotherapy, anticholinergic medications, antihistamines, antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, estrogen hormones, corticosteroids, antipsychotic medications, beta-blockers, diuretics, and retinoids. More factors include hormonal changes (including those of pregnancy), bone marrow transplantation, various diseases (diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus, primary biliary cirrhosis, thyroid disease, and vitamin A deficiency), infections (HIV, hepatitis C, human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1, Epstein Barr virus), and autoimmune diseases, especially Sjogren syndrome. Sjogren syndrome accounts for approximately 10 percent of all cases of dry eyes.

How are dry eyes during pregnancy diagnosed?

Diagnosis begins with your doctors evaluation of your symptoms, which can include episodes of blurred vision that often clears when you blink, a sore, irritated feeling in your eyes that worsens throughout the day, redness in your eyes, and sticky eyelids when you wake up. You will be sent to an eye doctor for a full eye exam, plus whats called the Schirmer test in which blotting paper strips are put under your lower eyelids. After five minutes, the examiner measures the proportion of the strip that has been soaked by tears. Other tests can evaluate subtle abnormalities of your corneas and how quickly it takes for tears to evaporate from your eyes.

Do dry eyes cause problems during pregnancy?

The condition creates discomfort and can make it difficult for you to drive and especially to read.

Do dry eyes cause problems for the baby?

No. There is no direct impact on the baby since the problem is localized to the mothers eyes.

What to consider about taking medications when you are pregnant or breastfeeding:

  • The risks to yourself and your baby if you do not treat the dry eyes
  • The risks and benefits of each medication you use when you are pregnant
  • The risks and benefits of each medication you use when you are breastfeeding

What should I know about using medication to treat dry eyes during pregnancy?

In most cases, dry eyes during pregnancy can be treated with over-the-counter artificial tears, which present no danger to the baby or the mothers health. In cases when the dry eyes are due to an underlying medical problem, such as Sjogren syndrome, there is a wide range of treatments from which pregnancy appropriate choices can be made in collaboration with your doctors.

Who should NOT stop taking medication for dry eyes during pregnancy?

In most cases, medication, such as eye drops, is for the sake of comfort, so there are women who may decide to stop treatment, but there is little reason to stop.

What should I know about choosing a medication for my dry eyes during pregnancy?

It is important to stay in communication with your health care provider as the release of new studies over time can change the outlook on the role of specific medications during pregnancy.

You may find Pregistrys expert reports about the medications to treat this condition here. Additional information can also be found in the sources listed below.

What should I know about taking a medication for dry eyes when I am breastfeeding?

Dry eyes, while you are nursing, usually can be treated with over-the-counter artificial tears, which present no danger to a nursing infant. In cases when the dry eyes are due to an underlying medical problem, such as Sjogren syndrome, there is a wide range of treatments from which nursing sate choices can be made.

What alternative therapies besides medications can I use to treat my dry eyes during pregnancy?

It can be helpful to wash your eyes with mild soap and warm water. It also can be helpful to minimize the amount of time that you keep contact lenses in your eyes.

What can I do for myself and my baby when I have dry eyes during pregnancy?

It is very important to follow the instructions of your physician and/or optometrist.  

Resources for dry eyes in pregnancy:

For more information about dry eyes during and after pregnancy, contact http://www.womenshealth.gov/ (800-994-9662 [TDD: 888-220-5446]) or contact the following organizations:


Read the whole report
General information

It is very common for women to worry about having a miscarriage or giving birth to a child with a birth defect while they are pregnant. Many decisions that women make about their health during pregnancy are made with these concerns in mind.

For many women these concerns are very real. As many as 1 in 5 pregnancies end in a miscarriage, and 1 in 33 babies are born with a birth defect. These rates are considered the background population risk, which means they do not take into consideration anything about the health of the mom, the medications she is taking, or the family history of the mom or the baby’s dad. A number of different things can increase these risks, including taking certain medications during pregnancy.

It is known that most medications, including over-the-counter medications, taken during pregnancy do get passed on to the baby. Fortunately, most medicines are not harmful to the baby and can be safely taken during pregnancy. But there are some that are known to be harmful to a baby’s normal development and growth, especially when they are taken during certain times of the pregnancy. Because of this, it is important to talk with your doctor or midwife about any medications you are taking, ideally before you even try to get pregnant.

If a doctor other than the one caring for your pregnancy recommends that you start a new medicine while you are pregnant, it is important that you let them know you are pregnant.

If you do need to take a new medication while pregnant, it is important to discuss the possible risks the medicine may pose on your pregnancy with your doctor or midwife. They can help you understand the benefits and the risks of taking the medicine.

Ultimately, the decision to start, stop, or change medications during pregnancy is up to you to make, along with input from your doctor or midwife. If you do take medications during pregnancy, be sure to keep track of all the medications you are taking.

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