Eyes and Vision During Pregnancy


With Mother's Day quickly approaching I can't help reflect on motherhood and how it is such an amazing, beautiful part of life associated with so many examples of selflessness starting right at conception. Pregnancy is obviously wearisome in so many ways, many of which are easily beheld, but there are also changes that occur that may not be as noticeable to the company you keep, including changes to the eyes and vision. Here is a list of some changes that might happen to the eyes and vision during pregnancy. Although many minor changes are normal, it is also important to be aware of what is not and requires quick medical attention.

Blurry Vision

During pregnancy there might be a time when you notice the glasses or contact lenses that were working great for you last week suddenly don't seem to be make things as clear. There are a number of physiological changes that occur during pregnancy that can result in vision changes including hormone fluctuations and water retention causing your cornea (lens on the front of the eye) to thicken, change shape and shift your vision. If you experience a blurring of vision you should speak to your eye doctor to ensure you're not experiencing symptoms of a more serious problem and also to find a temporary vision corrective solution. Your vision should normalize after giving birth but may remain changed if you are nursing. Should you experience vision loss, light sensitivity or flashing lights at any point during your pregnancy, seek medical attention immediately to rule out preeclampsia (pregnancy-related high blood pressure affecting other organ systems), a very serious issue that affects 5-8% of pregnancies.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes is a common condition that affects mothers-to-be and can be attributed to hormonal fluctuations while pregnant or breastfeeding. The alteration in tear production along with the corneal changes described above may result in the contact lens brand you've been wearing for years suddenly becoming uncomfortable. Preservative-free artificial tears found over-the-counter are safe to use during pregnancy and can help relieve dry eye symptoms. If artificial tears are not quelling the irritation you should discuss any further therapy with your eye doctor since even over-the-counter medications can contain ingredients that may not be not be safe during pregnancy.

Diabetes

Women who are diabetic and become pregnant should have an eye exam as soon as possible with follow up appointments at intervals recommended by your eye doctor. This is to ensure there is not a condition called diabetic retinopathy, a condition where high blood sugar levels cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina (visually critical layer of the back of the eye). A woman's risk of developing diabetic retinopathy is increased during pregnancy. Pregnancy may also cause a rapid worsening of diabetic retinopathy in women who already have the disease. Diabetic retinopathy is not commonly linked to gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy), but as previously mentioned, if visual changes occur you should consult your eye doctor.

The body goes through some astounding changes during pregnancy, many of which are not too pleasant. Although mild changes to the eyes and vision are a very normal part of the selfless and loving act of pregnancy, receiving an exam by an eye care professional can provide an expecting mother peace of mind and help prevent the more rare, serious conditions.

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Fine Print: Guys, I am a licensed optometrist, but this post was not written to substitute for a face-to-face examination and diagnosis by another licensed eye care provider. This post was written to be solely for informational purposes. If you think you have an eye emergency, please call your eye doctor or go to an emergency room. You can read my disclaimer more thoroughly here.


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