Our lifestyles and certain events in life can affect our eyesight. Lack of sleep can cause sensitivity to light, pollution can cause dry eyes, staring at a screen all day can cause eye strain. It only makes sense that something as life changing as pregnancy, which already alters so much of a woman’s body, would also affect one’s eyes.
More specifically, changes in hormones, metabolism, blood circulation and fluid retention are all factors that may trigger change in your eyesight. These changes, however, are very rarely permanent. Your eyesight will revert back to normal a few months after delivering your newborn.
Let’s take a look at how your eyesight can change when you’re pregnant, what dangerous symptoms to be on the lookout for and how you can relieve your eyes of any discomfort, naturally!
How Does Pregnancy Affect Eyesight?
There are multiple ways pregnancy can affect your eyesight. How pregnancy affects your eyes and vision is something specific to an individual as each woman experiences pregnancy differently. These are some common ways your eyesight may change, but if you are at all worried about them, seek professional help.
One common change in pregnancy is how your body retains water. This can cause your cornea to thicken and can sometimes change its curvature. This isn’t a huge change, and if you don’t wear glasses you may not even notice. You may notice your vision to be more blurry than before, but don’t rush out for a new pair of glasses just yet as your vision will likely restore back to normal.
But glasses wearers (or contacts wearers) beware. This corneal change may affect the way you see through your glasses or contacts. Again, this doesn’t mean you’re going to need a new prescription unless you continue to see poorly even after you’ve given birth.
Your newly shaped cornea can also lead to dry and itchy eyes. This happens when your glasses and contacts become uncomfortable to wear. Don’t worry though, there’s no need to panic. We’ll go over how to relieve your eyes in just a little bit.
Preeclampsia is another condition related to vision changes during pregnancy. This condition can be caused by high blood pressure or sometimes can be a sign of damage to another organ. Preeclampsia occurs in around two to six percent of pregnancies.
A word of caution: sometimes pregnancy can worsen existing eye conditions. For example, those with diabetic retinopathy may experience more damaged blood vessels in the retina. Be sure to talk to your eye doctor before getting pregnant and discuss ways you can avoid this. You will most likely be asked to get your eyes screened in early pregnancy to track any damage.
Pregnancy can also have the opposite effect on certain existing eye conditions. Glaucoma, for example, is a vision condition that may actually improve during pregnancy.
Signs to Keep an Eye Out For
Admittedly, some of these eyesight changes have been jarring. Pregnancy is hard enough on any woman that there’s no need to add more worry. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of symptoms and signs to watch out for, for potentially dangerous vision conditions during pregnancy.
Here are two of the most dangerous conditions and how to spot them:
- Preeclampsia: This is quite a dangerous condition that can cause seizures in pregnant women, which isn’t good for the mother or the baby. Possible symptoms include temporary vision loss, light sensitivity, blurred vision, the appearance of flashing lights, or auras around objects.
- Diabetic Retinopathy and Gestational Diabetes: This condition is easily spotted in those who already have diabetes. Chances are your doctor will have already warned you. However, if you have not been diagnosed as diabetic, sometimes pregnant women develop a temporary form of diabetes.
This temporary diabetes is called gestational diabetes. Two common indications of this condition are abnormally high blood sugar levels and blurred vision. But it isn’t anything to worry about, your doctor will help you regulate your blood sugar to keep you and your baby healthy.
Some other symptoms that are worth mentioning to your doctor are:
- Double vision
- Seeing spots
- Redness in or around the eye
- Puffiness or swelling around the eye
If you’re thinking about getting pregnant and are worried about your eyes, ask your doctor for more information on how to avoid these eyesight conditions.
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Relieve Your Eyes
Perhaps you are already pregnant and are experiencing some discomfort with your eyes. For the less urgent vision conditions, such as dry eyes or uncomfortable glasses, there are ways to relieve your eyes for the time being.
For dry eyes, it is recommended to use artificial tears or teardrops. The problem with this, however, is that artificial tears are made with chemicals and ingredients that sometimes aren’t safe for pregnant women. Some natural remedies to consider are omega-3 supplements such as fish oils for the eyes, a warm compress, blinking more often, and limiting computer time.
For itchy eyes – this may come with wearing contacts that aren’t quite right anymore – use cucumber slices and cold compresses (chilled chamomile tea bags work great) for instant relief. Dabbing a cotton ball soaked with milk around the eye will help to sooth the itching of the skin.
As for blurred vision due to fluid retention, it looks like you’re just going to have to wait it out. Your cornea, as mentioned before, will revert back to its normal shape most likely after breastfeeding. In the meantime, it is recommended you wear glasses instead of contacts or get temporary glasses with your newly needed prescription.
Your eyes change with your body. Eyesight is never constant. Having a baby on the way is one of the most highly anticipated moments in a person’s life and the process of pregnancy shouldn’t be a difficult one.
In the midst of all the excitement, the planning, and the staying healthy for the baby, it can be easy to disregard your own health. Especially your own eye health. Don’t let it become a stress factor during your pregnancy. Stress isn’t good for you or your new baby.