Pregnancy brings about a lot of body changes, morning sickness and pains. But did you know that it can also change your eyes and vision?
Nov 11, 2015
Pregnancy brings about a lot of body changes, morning sickness and pains. But did you know that it can also change your eyes and vision? In fact, changes in hormones, metabolism, fluid retention, and blood circulation all affect your eyes which may impact how well you see. 1
If you experience vision changes during your pregnancy, most likely they will be minor and temporary. Eyesight will presumably return to normal after the delivery of your baby. However, some vision problems associated with pregnancy may require medical attention. Be aware of the following changes in your eyes and know what symptoms may be a sign of a serious problem.
Dry eyes 1, 2, 3
You may find your eyes feel extra dry during your pregnancy. This can make wearing contact lenses irritating and uncomfortable. The good news is there are rewetting or lubricating drops available. If this doesn’t help, try wearing your contact lenses for shorter amounts of time.
If computers are part your regular routine, take a break from staring at the screen. Long periods of time looking at technology screens - such as televisions, computers and even mobile devices - can aggravate eye dryness and irritation. Don't forget to blink!
If dry eye symptoms during pregnancy are really uncomfortable, hang in there. These symptoms are usually temporary and go away a couple weeks after your baby is born.
Refractive changes 1, 2
Water or fluid retention, a common side effect of pregnancy, may affect the thickness and shape of your cornea causing a vision change in those with myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness). This is a minor change that may result in blurry vision and how well your contact lenses or glasses correct your vision.
Most likely, these refractive changes during pregnancy will be minimal, and will not result in the need for a new glasses or contact lens prescription. Because of the potential change to shape of your cornea, you should not to have laser eye surgery during pregnancy. If you think your vision has changed significantly, have your vision checked by your eye care professional.
Gestational diabetes 1, 2, 3
Women who have diabetes or have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes (a temporary form of diabetes during pregnancy) need to carefully monitor how well they can see. Blurry vision may be an indication of elevated blood sugar levels, which can damage the small blood vessels in the retina, or back of the eye. The risk of retinal damage due to diabetes, otherwise known as diabetic retinopathy, increases during pregnancy.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes prior to your pregnancy, see an ophthalmologist prior to or in the early stages of pregnancy to discuss monitoring plans - a screen for retinal damage may be needed. Careful diabetes management should be followed to ensure a healthy pregnancy. For more information on diabetes and pregnancy, contact the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES or visit their website, www.diabetes.org.
Glaucoma 1, 3, 4
Due to hormonal changes, the pressure within the eye generally increases during pregnancy. This may actually benefit some women with glaucoma. If so, your medication may need to be adjusted during pregnancy. Those with glaucoma should talk with their eye doctor before they become pregnant.
Puffiness around the eyes 2, 3
Puffy eyelids are a common side effect of pregnancy. To help with this, make sure you are drinking enough water and monitor your sodium intake. Call your obstetrician if you notice an unusual amount of swelling or puffiness around your eyes - as this is a symptom that may accompany preeclampsia, a potentially serious problem that occurs in 5% to 8% of pregnancies.
Other concerning vision symptoms during pregnancy 1, 2
Though most vision changes are temporary, there are eye symptoms that are cause for concern during your pregnancy. Let your eye doctor know if experience any of the following:
Sensitivity to light
Temporary loss of vision
Appearance of flashing lights
If you have questions about your eyesight or vision during pregnancy, play it safe. Call your eye care professional, ask questions and express your concerns.