If You Experience Dry Eyes During Pregnancy, This Could Be Why

There are plenty of typical symptoms of pregnancy, like food cravings, fatigue, and nausea. But then there are the symptoms you might not expect, like dry eyes. So how does expecting a baby affect your eyes?

During pregnancy, the body goes through a number of changes, especially hormonally (via Healthline). When you become pregnant, estrogen begins to increase. This hormonal rise allows the fetus to grow and develop, along with the milk ducts.

Estrogen increases abruptly in the first trimester, which can cause nausea, and then continues to increase at a stable rate, peaking in the third trimester. In fact, a person produces more estrogen during one pregnancy than they do throughout the entire time they're not pregnant during their lives, according to Healthline.

Progesterone, the other main pregnancy hormone, also increases during pregnancy, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. A rise in progesterone makes the lining of the uterus thicker, which allows for a fertilized egg to implant.

Two other hormones, human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG) and human placental lactogen (hPL), are only made when you're pregnant. They are both made in the placenta and are necessary for a healthy pregnancy.

The cause for dry eyes during pregnancy and how you can treat it

When hormone levels fluctuate during a pregnancy, they can cause unexpected symptoms, like dry eyes (via Medical News Today). You might notice that your eyes feel itchy and watery, are sensitive to light, or appear red. You might feel like you need to blink a lot, have dried or stringy mucus in your eyes, feel like something is in your eyes, or experience changes in your vision. Pregnant people have a higher likelihood of developing dry eyes than those who aren't pregnant.

A hormone that increases during pregnancy is estradiol, which is a type of estrogen (via Cleveland Clinic). This type of estrogen is dominant in the reproductive years. Estradiol may suppress genes that are involved in making tears, which might be why your eyes can feel dry during pregnancy, according to Medical News Today.

You can help alleviate dryness by drinking plenty of water, using a humidifier in your home, and wearing sunglasses when you go into the sun. However, certain health conditions can contribute to dry eyes, and not all home remedies may be safe during pregnancy, so Medical News Today recommends seeing a doctor for evaluation and treatment.