Visual changes in pregnancy are common and many are associated with pregnancy itself. These ocular changes can help to differentiate the physiological changes from ocular manifestation of systemic disease, and diseases pertaining to the eye in pregnant women. Changes in hormones, metabolism, fluid retention and blood circulation, can all affect your eyes and your eyesight during pregnancy. Water retention, for instance, may cause the thickness and curvature of the cornea of your eye to increase slightly. It is a small change, but it could affect how well your glasses or contacts correct your vision. It is also why laser eye surgery is not recommended during pregnancy, and why it is not a good time to be fitted for new contact lenses.
Changes in eyesight during pregnancy
Most women who experience a change find that they’re a bit more near-sighted or there is an increase in minus power, as compared to before pregnancy, due to increase in curvature of lens. If you wear glasses, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to change your prescription as the change in refraction is minor. If you think your vision has changed significantly, have an eye evaluation. Pregnancy isn’t a great time to invest in a new pair of glasses, though. In most cases, these changes are temporary and will reverse themselves within some months of delivery. You may find that your eyes are drier and more irritated during pregnancy, as well as during breastfeeding. This, along with subtle changes in the shape and thickness of the cornea, may contribute to some difficulty wearing contact lenses that were once comfortable. Ask your eye doctor about dry-eye remedies. Some overthe- counter solutions are fine to use, but others contain active ingredients that may not be completely safe during pregnancy. If you use contact lenses, try wearing them for shorter stretches of time. If that doesn’t help, switch to glasses until you have your baby. Make regular breaks from the computer part of your routine. Staring at a computer screen for long periods of frequently as usual, can exacerbate the dryness and irritation.
Signs to watch out for
Some of the eye symptoms can signal specific problems during pregnancy. High blood pressure (pre-eclampsia) for example, may cause vision disturbances. You can also suffer from Retinoblastoma, a tumour of the retina.
Be sure to let your doctor know immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Temporary loss of vision
- Seeing spots or flashing lights
Swelling or puffiness around your eyes is another symptom that may accompany a disease called pre-eclampsia. Eye pain or redness should also prompt a call to your doctor.
Effect on pre-existing conditions
Pregnancy can also bring about changesin existing eye conditions, for better or for worse. If you have diabetes, see an ophthalmologist before you get pregnant, and again in early pregnancy to get screened for damage to the blood vessels in your retina. This condition, called diabetic retinopathy, often worsens during pregnancy, so you’ll need more frequent eye exams while you’re pregnant and in the postpartum period. Glaucoma, on the other hand, sometimes improves during pregnancy, so your medication may need to be adjusted. If you have glaucoma and are planning a pregnancy, your doctor may be able to lessen your baby’s exposure to the medication by starting you off with as low a dose as possible.
Have a safe baby with safe eyes!