Are Eye Problems During Pregnancy Common?

A woman’s body goes through a great deal of change during pregnancy.  Changes in hormones, fluid retention, blood circulation and the metabolism can impact a number of things in the body.  Your eyes and vision are just one of the things that can be affected by these bodily changes during pregnancy.

How Can Pregnancy Affect my Vision?

During pregnancy, women often experience water retention.  A side effect of this water retention is that it can cause the curvature and thickness of your eyes to slightly increase.  This can make you more far- or near-sighted than usual.  And while the change is not very drastic, it can be enough to alter the effectiveness of your glasses or contacts to correct your vision.

Another common symptom that pregnant women experience is dry eye.  This is typically common in the third trimester and even while breastfeeding as the result of an increase in estrogen in the body.  The body is then producing fewer tears, which leaves the eyes dry, irritated and red.  One problem that can arise from having dry eye syndrome is irritation caused by scratching or rubbing the eyes.  You can blur your vision and even damage the surface of your eye from constantly trying to relieve your dry eyes.

Pregnancy can also affect pre-existing eye conditions, both by improving or worsening the conditions.  Some diabetic patients have a condition called diabetic retinopathy, which is where high blood sugar levels can cause damage to the blood vessels inside the retina.  During pregnancy, this condition can often get worse, which is why it is recommended if you have diabetes prior to pregnancy, you closely monitor your eyes to make sure that this condition does not develop or worsen.  On the flip side, patients with glaucoma have sometimes seen an improvement in this particular eye condition.  As a result, glaucoma medication may need to be adjusted and it is crucial to monitor the baby’s exposure to the medication throughout the pregnancy.

What Can I Do?

If you are experiencing eye problems during pregnancy, it is helpful to keep in mind that most changes are minor and temporary.  It is unlikely that you will need to change your prescription.  Most women find the symptoms temporary and that they revert back after a few months.  If you feel that your vision is significantly changing, contact your eye doctor right away to monitor any changes within your eyes and to ensure optimal eye care during pregnancy.  LASIK is not recommended while pregnant since there may be temporary changes in your vision and LASIK will not be able to properly correct your vision the way it should.

If you are experiencing dry eye, wearing contact lenses may become difficult.  It may be helpful to make sure to have a pair of glasses handy and to try and give your eyes a rest with contacts, while also treating them with eye drops to help replenish the moisture in the eyes.  It is extremely important that you not rub or scratch your eyes if they are drier than usual.  This can cause irritation and redness, but may also lead to even more problems by infecting the eyes or scratching the surface of the cornea.  Be sure to check with your doctor for any over-the-counter drops and make sure that the ingredients in the drops don’t have any side effects that may be harmful to you and your baby while pregnant.

If you have diabetes or any other health or eye conditions, as noted above, pregnancy can sometimes impact these conditions and any side effects that may come of those conditions.  It is important to take some extra care to monitor these conditions, along with any medication you may be taking to treat these conditions.

In general, the best way for you to care for eye problems during pregnancy is to take the standard forms of care for your eyes.  This includes resting your eyes from long, strenuous hours on the computer or in front of electronics, reading with ample lighting, taking your contacts out whenever possible and definitely before going to sleep, and always make sure to protect your eyes from the sun and its harmful UV rays.  By taking the steps for everyday care of your eyes, you will help be doing all that you can do to avoid any other factors that may affect your eyes and vision while pregnant.

For help or questions regarding eye problems during pregnancy, please do not hesitate to visit Advanced Eye Medical today to help you clear up your concerns and your vision.