Oh, Baby! Pregnancy and Your Vision
Pregnancy is a time of many exciting changes, but did you know it can also cause changes in your vision?
Pregnancy and your vision
In most cases, changes to vision during pregnancy are temporary eye conditions that will disappear soon after the baby is born, but expectant mothers should be aware of vision changes during pregnancy and know which symptoms could point to a serious problem.
Refractive (Prescription) changes
Changes in hormone levels can affect eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions. Though this does not usually indicate an underlying problem, it's a good idea for expectant mothers to inform their eye care professional and discuss whether or not to change their prescription. Women may simply be advised to wait a few weeks after delivery and then have their eyes tested again.
Puffy or swollen eyelids
Puffiness around the eyes is another common symptom during pregnancy. While not a serious concern, it can be uncomfortable and may interfere with peripheral or side vision. Increasing water intake and lowering sodium and caffeine consumption can help reduce fluid retention and bring down any swelling around the eyes.
Dry eyes and contact lenses
Many women experience dry eyes during pregnancy. Again, this is usually temporary and goes away soon after delivery. If the symptoms are especially bothersome, using lubricating or rewetting eye drops while pregnant or nursing can help. A pharmacist or eye care professional can advise which brands are suitable for pregnant or nursing mothers. In addition, contact lenses, solutions and cleaners are safe to use while pregnant. If a woman's eyes are more irritated than usual by contact lenses, cleaning contacts more often may help. If they become too uncomfortable, some people choose to wear eyeglasses until the baby is born. A woman's eyes will return to normal within a few weeks after delivery.
Monitor your blood pressure, protect your eyes
The natural increase in blood pressure experienced during pregnancy can sometimes cause blurry vision or spots in the mother's eyes. This is fairly common, but at excessive levels, high blood pressure can cause other serious health problems, including detachment of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue inside the back of the eyeball. Family doctors should check women's blood pressure during each prenatal visit.
Migraines, hormones and your vision
The fluctuation in hormones during pregnancy often causes migraine headaches, which may make eyes very sensitive to light. Women who suffer from migraines while expecting should talk to their doctor before taking any prescription or over-the-counter headache medications.
Expectant mothers with pre-existing eye conditions like glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy, or who have high blood pressure or diabetes, should always tell their eye care professional that they are pregnant. That way, he or she can arrange to monitor more closely for vision changes.
Women being treated for glaucoma should tell their eye care professional immediately when they learn that they are pregnant, or if they are intending to become pregnant. Some glaucoma medications can be harmful to developing babies.
Whether the soon-to-be mom has diabetes before she becomes pregnant, or whether she develops diabetes during pregnancy (also known as gestational diabetes), it is important to monitor vision closely during those nine months of pregnancy. Blurred vision may indicate that the body's blood sugar levels are elevated and this could harm the vision of the mother and the baby. And remember, women should not put off regular eye exams while expecting! It is safe to have an eye examination and even pupil dilation while pregnant.