Eyesight During Pregnancy
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During pregnancy your body will go through a number of changes. While some are clearly as a result of the pregnancy, such as morning sickness and your growing bump, others such as changes to your vision and eyesight, can seem unrelated. With so many changes happening to your body as your pregnancy progresses, it is not surprising that there can be a knock on effect elsewhere. If you do experience changes to your eyesight during your pregnancy, it is not usually a cause for concern so there is no need to worry unduly.
What changes can I expect to my vision?
Some women do not experience any changes to their vision while they are pregnant. Others experience minor changes and usually find themselves slightly more near-sighted than they were previously. In most cases this resolves itself once the baby is born.
What causes these visual changes?
There are a number of different reasons why you might experience changes to your vision during pregnancy. Many hormonal changes take place during this time and these can have an impact on your vision. Changes to your metabolic rate and blood circulation can also have an effect. Water retention is also a cause of visual changes. This can result in a small change to the curvature and thickness of your cornea and, while this will not usually have a significant impact on your vision, in some cases it can mean that you will need a different prescription for your glasses or contact lenses.
Can I have laser eye surgery while pregnant?
It is not recommended to have laser eye surgery whilst you are pregnant or in the first few months after having your baby. This is because your vision can change during this period so it is best to wait until you are sure that it has stabilised.
How else will my eyes be affected?
Many women find that their eyes are drier whilst they are pregnant and that they are more easily irritated. This dryness can continue whilst breastfeeding. As a result some women find that it is preferable to wear glasses rather than contact lenses during this time as contact lenses can exacerbate the problem.
Existing eye conditions can also be affected. If you have diabetes then you should consult with your ophthalmologist both when trying for a baby and once pregnant. You will need to be screened to check whether there is any damage to the blood vessels in your retina. If so, you may be suffering from a condition known as diabetic retinopathy, which can worsen during pregnancy and during the postpartum period.
If you have glaucoma then you may find that your condition improves whilst you are pregnant. You should consult with your GP when trying for a baby and when pregnant if you have glaucoma, as your medication may be reduced.
Can I use eye drops when pregnant?
If you are suffering from dry eyes than you may wish to use eye drops to alleviate the irritation. You should speak to your pharmacist about which types are safe to use during pregnancy as some contain active ingredients that have not been tested for safety during pregnancy.
Can I wear contact lenses while pregnant?
There is no reason why you should not continue to wear contact lenses while pregnant. Some women, however, find that they are not comfortable to wear as their eyes feel dry and gritty. This is because the hormonal changes that take place while you are pregnant or breastfeeding have an impact on your body's ability to produce the tear film that is responsible for lubricating your eyes and stabilising your vision.
Are changes to my vision ever a cause for concern?
Whilst in most cases changes to your vision are not a cause for concern, in some instances you should seek guidance from your midwife or GP. Pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure can be accompanied by changes to your vision so it is important to speak with your midwife or GP if you experience:
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Seeing spots or flashing lights
- Temporary loss of sight
- Swelling or puffiness around your eyes
In most cases any changes to your vision and eyes during pregnancy are only temporary and resolve themselves in the postpartum period after you have had your baby. If, however, you have a pre-existing condition that affects your eyes or you experience any substantial changes to your vision you should consult with your midwife or GP.