5 Ways Pregnancy Affects Your Vision

It's obvious that pregnancy changes your body, but did you know it can also affect the way you see? Along with a host of other bodily changes, pregnancy can affect your eyes and quality of vision. Changes in hormones during pregnancy are responsible for most of these changes. Hormones are quite elevated during the eight to nine months of pregnancy, causing your body to change in a multitude of different ways. While these changes are usually temporary, they can sometimes signal more serious conditions. If you are experiencing vision or eye-related changes that you are concerned about, or if you just need help with sudden blurry vision, consult your obstetrician and ophthalmologist or optometrist. Below are the top five eye and vision changes that may occur during your pregnancy.

1
Wearing Contact Lenses

Pregnant woman reading on the couch
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Wearing contact lenses comfortably requires plenty of lubrication, either in the form of tears or lubricating eye drops. Sometimes the increase in hormones during pregnancy change the tear film, often making the eyes drier. Besides needing more tears, many pregnant women find wearing contact lenses intolerable, even if they've worn them for years. During pregnancy, subtle changes occur to the shape of the cornea. Those contact lenses that once felt very comfortable may suddenly fit differently due to changes in corneal curvature. Also, the cornea can swell causing edema. Corneal edema may cause the cornea to become irritated more easily.

If you are an avid contact lens wearer, you may have to switch to glasses during your pregnancy. Most doctors advise against being fitted for new contact lenses while you are pregnant, as your eyes may be in a constant state of change. If you normally wear contact lenses on a daily basis, make sure you have a good pair of backup glasses to wear during your pregnancy if you need a break from your contacts

2
Blurred Vision

Blurry vision
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Pregnancy often causes swelling throughout the body. Swelling that sometimes occurs during pregnancy may cause mild changes to your glasses or contact lens prescription. You may feel more nearsighted one day and distance objects may be blurred. For most women, these vision changes are not enough to warrant a prescription change or new glasses during pregnancy, as this is usually a temporary change.

3
Dry Eyes

Eye drops
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Blame it on hormones if your eyes constantly feel dry. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can dry the eyes out and leave you with little to no extra tears for lubrication. The quality or quantity of your tears may also change substantially while you are pregnant. Dry eyes can sometimes cause you to feel like a piece of sand is in your eye. Your eyes may burn, itch, or even suddenly become excessively watery.

Your doctor may recommend the use of artificial tears given several times per day to alleviate discomfort due to dry eyes. Ask your eye doctor about other treatments if artificial tears do not resolve symptoms.

4
Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic
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If you have diabetes, you are susceptible to the development or worsening of diabetic retinopathy during your pregnancy. Pregnant women may develop bleeding or fluid leakage in the retina, which can cause blurred vision and, in some cases, significant vision loss and even blindness.

Women who have any type of diabetes should have at least one and possibly more eye examinations during pregnancy, especially if blood sugar levels are not stable. Obstetricians are aware of this and usually work closely with your eye care professionals

5
Spots and Floaters

Rub eyes
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Pregnant women who complain of spots in their vision are taken very seriously. These dark spots could be scotomata. Unlike floaters, which move across the visual field and can be normal (whether pregnant or not), scotomata are stable and usually involve a larger part of the field of vision. Scotomata can indicate preeclampsia or eclampsia, complications during some pregnancies that can cause blood pressure to become dangerously high. Although this can result in unusual visual symptoms, in most cases eye damage is limited and vision returns to normal upon resolution of the high blood pressure.

Source:

Murkoff, Heidi and Sharon Mazel. What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition. Workman Publishing, 2008. Pp 242-243.

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