Pregnancy and Your Eyes

Women’s bodies undergo a lot of changes while pregnant. Some are pretty obvious, but I have found that many people do not realize that a lot of women have changes with their vision and their eyes. Most of these changes are mild and will return to normal after delivery, but others can signify more serious issues so I would like to go over these changes, so you know what to look for and when to see your eye doctor.

Does Pregnancy Cause Dry Eyes

Dry eye is one of the more common problems I see with my pregnant patients. The hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy can cause a decrease in the amount of tears that your eyes produce and this can lead to gritty, irritated, eyes. Other symptoms of dry eye can include watery eyes, blurry vision, and burning eyes. The glands that line your upper and lower lids can also reduce the amount of lubricating oil that they produce leading to dry eye symptoms as well. Luckily, most patients can find relief in over-the-counter artificial tears. I like the brands Refresh and Systane best. Warm
compresses are great to help soothe irritated eyes as well. If you are a contact lens wearer, you may notice that your lenses are more uncomfortable due to the eyes being more dry than normal. You can use artificial tears with contacts in, just make sure it specifies that they can be used with contacts. I also recommend taking breaks from the contacts when you can and wearing glasses. If still experiencing issues, daily disposable lenses are a great option as they are more comfortable for drier eyes.

Will Being Pregnant Change My Glasses Prescription?

Do you feel like you aren’t seeing as well as you used to before you get pregnant? It could be because you are having refractive changes, or changes in the prescription needed to correct your vision. You retain water throughout your body, and your cornea (the front surface of your eye) is no exception. The cornea will become thicker and change your vision. I usually don’t recommend getting new prescription glasses or contacts quite yet, as most of the time these changes are pretty mild and will correct themselves once you deliver or stop breast feeding. I also don’t recommend getting LASIK while pregnant because of this reason.

Migraines and Pregnancy

Migraines can be more common in the first trimester but thankfully tend to ease up in the second and third trimesters. I have suffered from these with this pregnancy, and they are no fun! Light sensitivity can go hand in hand with these migraines. I recommend talking to your OBGYN about medication that is safe to use while pregnant as well as wearing sunglasses or turning the lights down.

Eye Pressure

Inside the eye, there is fluid that constantly flows in and out of the eye to help it keep its shape. We call this “eye pressure”. During pregnancy, we can see a decrease in overall eye pressure. Typically, this causes no issues, but if you are being treated for glaucoma (a condition where the eye pressure is higher than normal), you should go over your medications with your doctor to make sure they are safe to use. This will typically go back to normal around two months post-partum.

Serious conditions related to vision changes

There are two conditions that are very serious that can manifest with eye changes. These are preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Preeclampsia, brought on by high blood pressure, occurs around the 20 th week of gestation and in about 5% of pregnancies. It can come on fast and pose a risk to your health and the baby. Ocular symptoms include loss of vision, light sensitivity, blurry vision, and flashing lights. Treatment with blood pressure medications may work, or if far enough along they may decide to induce delivery. Gestational diabetes, while temporary, can damage the blood vessels on the inside of the eye. Blurry vision can be a sign of this as well. These two examples are huge reasons why you need to let your doctor know if you are having any vision changes. It is probably not a cause for concern, but it is better to be safe than sorry. While pregnancy comes with lots of changes to the body, it can be an amazing experience. Just listen to your body, make sure to get rest, stay hydrated, and eat a healthy diet.

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