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April 1, 2016 | Ophthalmology
Pregnancy can forever change your life but it may temporarily affect your vision. You probably expected to see changes in your body during pregnancy, including a beautiful baby bump and a wonderful glow to your skin. You may not have expected to experience vision changes, however, and you may even be worried that vision changes are a sign of something more serious.
Fortunately, the vision changes normally associated with pregnancy are usually minor and temporary. These changes can make pregnancy a little more uncomfortable, however.
Your hormones aren’t the only thing affected during pregnancy. You’ll see changes in metabolism, water retention, and blood circulation that temporarily change your eyes and affect your vision.
Pregnancy can cause fluid retention; even your eyes can hold onto too much water. This excess fluid increases the thickness and curvature of the cornea, which is the transparent layer at the front of your eye. Your cornea acts as the outermost lens of your eye, somewhat like a window controlling and focusing light as it enters your eye.
You’ll see changes in metabolism, water retention, and blood circulation that temporarily change your eyes and affect your vision.
Pregnancy causes the eyes to retain only a small amount of fluid, but just enough to change vision. This is why optometrists discourage laser eye surgery during pregnancy and recommend that women wait until after pregnancy to be fitted for new contact lenses.
Many women experience dry eyes during pregnancy. Hormones control the production of tears that lubricate the eyes. Pregnancy shifts hormone levels to slow production of tears, which causes the eyes to dry out. Dry eyes are often worse for women who use computers regularly or who wear contact lenses.
Vision problems during pregnancy are usually minor and go away on their own. If vision problems during pregnancy bother you, however, make an appointment with an ophthalmologist to make sure you do not have a serious eye problem.
Give your eyes a rest whenever they bother you. Closing your eyes for just a few minutes can help lubricate and rest them.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says that eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts, salmon and flaxseed, can help dry eye. Your optometrist may prescribe lubricating drops or other treatments to resolve dry eye during pregnancy. Wearing glasses instead of contact lenses may help.
If vision problems during pregnancy bother you, make an appointment with an ophthalmologist to make sure you do not have a serious eye problem.
AAO does say that very blurry vision may signal high blood pressure or pregnancy-related diabetes, and suggests you make an appointment with a doctor immediately if your vision becomes very blurry. The high blood sugar levels associated with gestational diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in your eyes.
Vision changes and high blood pressure may be a sign of preeclampsia, a serious condition that can put you and your baby at risk. In fact, the Preeclampsia Foundation calls vision changes, “the most serious symptoms of preeclampsia.” These vision changes include sensations of flashing lights, auras, sensitivity to light, blurry vision and seeing spots. Swelling in the central nervous system or swelling of the brain can cause these vision changes.
Most vision changes are minor and temporary, however, with vision returning to normal within a few months after pregnancy or termination of breastfeeding.
Vision changes and high blood pressure may be a sign of preeclampsia, a serious condition that can put you and your baby at risk.
If you are pregnant and are struggling with vision changes associated with pregnancy, make an appointment with an ophthalmologist at Revere Health. Our highly trained eye care professionals can diagnose the cause of your vision problem and help you find a solution.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.