Written by: Dr. Kelsey Ford
How Pregnancy Impacts Your Vision
With the myriad of changes that are experienced during pregnancy, it’s no wonder this milestone is full of both wonderful, and sometimes scary, surprises. Typically, a list of the physical side effects of pregnancy includes tenderness, cravings, swelling and nausea. However, few women know how pregnancy can impact vision. These are a few of vision changes to be aware of during pregnancy:
Blurred vision is a common vision change that pregnant women may experience. For instance, if you notice that your vision has steadily changed or is periodically different, you’re likely experiencing refractive changes caused by fluid retention.
Luckily, for most women, these changes are temporary until after delivery. Yet for some, these changes are permanent and may require a new prescription. While any change in vision should result in a visit to your local doctor of optometry, optometrists typically recommend that women wait between six and nine months after delivery before making changes to their prescription to ensure their eyes have fully re-adjusted.
Stinging, gritty, scratchy and uncomfortable feeling eyes are all common signs of a chronic condition called dry eye — a frequent occurrence during pregnancy, but if left untreated, can potentially lead to tissue damage and scarring.
The normal hormone fluctuations associated with pregnancy can cause a decrease in the production of natural tears, leading to dryness. Though these symptoms usually dissipate after delivery, in some cases, the condition will need to be managed with a prescription from your doctor of optometry.
Furthermore, while contact lenses are typically perfectly safe to use during pregnancy, there is a chance of contacts increasing dryness in the eyes. If this is the case, optometrists recommend switching to glasses in order to avoid any damage or further irritation.
If you’re experiencing dry eye symptoms, your optometrist can prescribe artificial tears, gels and ointments that can be used to alleviate the discomfort.
Preeclampsia, diabetes and gestational diabetes
Most pregnancy-related vision issues are not serious, but some vision changes may be related to preeclampsia and/or gestational diabetes. Additionally, women who are pre-disposed to high blood pressure have a significantly higher risk of experiencing serious eye health problems that often worsen during pregnancy and can lead to permanent damage to the blood vessels in the eye.
Visual symptoms to watch for include severe fluctuating or blurring of vision, occasional double vision, loss of visual field, and flashes and floaters within the eyes.
Women at risk for preeclampsia, or those suffering from gestational diabetes, should be seen by an optometrist once per trimester to monitor the blood vessels in the eye and to ensure appropriate steps are being taken to mitigate the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy – damage to retinal blood vessels – which can lead to permanent blindness.
Just remember that, above all, your pregnancy is a time for celebration and joy, so don’t let questions or worries with your vision go unaddressed. If ever in doubt, contact your optometrist or visit www.optometrists.ab.ca/find-an-optometrist to find one in your community.
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