Pregnancy and Vision

Dr. Diane Spada

Albeit minor and temporary during pregnancy, the hormonal and physical changes that accompany pregnancy can affect eyesight. More often, the postpartum eyesight typically returns to pre-pregnancy levels. However, there are some eye health related changes that can affect your vision which need attention. Some include:

1. Increased Dry Eyes

During pregnancy, one may notice that the eyes are drier than usual, making contact lens wear irritating and uncomfortable. Artificial tears may remedy most of this discomfort when not wearing contact lenses. While wearing contacts, lubricating drops formulated for contact lens wear can also assist to ease dryness symptoms. It may also be a good idea to limit the amount of time that contacts are worn. Lastly, check with the doctor first to make sure the active ingredients are safe to use while pregnant.

2. Intermittent Blurry Vision

Pregnancy can often result in mild fluid retention. In the eyes, this can temporarily change the thickness and shape of the cornea and lens. These changes can alter the eyes’ prescription and lead to blurry and/or distorted vision. Fortunately, these changes occur only during pregnancy and are not an issue afterwards or after one stops breast feeding. Being aware of these potential temporary changes, it is advised that any laser refractive procedure, such as LASIK and PRK, be postponed until well after birth is given.

3. Vision Problems due to Preeclampsia

There is a risk that vision changes can be a sign of preeclampsia, which is marked by elevated blood pressure and signs of organ damage. Vision changes typically include temporary blurry and loss of vision, light sensitivity, and seeing visual auras and flashing lights. As preeclampsia can rapidly progress and lead to complications, experiencing some or all of these symptoms should alert one to immediately visit the emergency room or her family physician.

4. Gestational Diabetes

During pregnancy, there is an increased risk of uncontrolled and high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes leading to diabetic retinopathy (damage of the small blood vessels that supply the retina). This is also true of Gestational Diabetes, which is a temporary form of diabetes that can occur during pregnancy. As with non-gestational diabetes, the fluctuation of vision with Gestational Diabetes can be correlated to fluctuating blood sugar levels. Thus, especially during pregnancy, blood sugar levels need to be monitored for regulation by the family physician.

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