Expectant moms know their bodies will change in many ways during pregnancy, but they may be surprised to find their eyes and vision change as well.
During pregnancy, a woman's body retains water and her blood volume increases. Her hormone levels fluctuate and blood pressure varies. All of these changes can affect eyes and vision. For example, vision may occasionally become slightly blurry for a short time. Eyes may become dry or more irritated. And the fluid retention that causes swollen ankles can change the shape of the cornea, affecting how well vision is corrected with contacts or glasses. Many women who have vision changes find they are slightly more nearsighted than before pregnancy.
Most of these vision changes are temporary, but some may point to a health problem that needs immediate attention for mom and baby's health. Of particular concern is pregnancy-related high blood pressure, called preeclampsia. This is a dangerous health condition often signaled by these vision problems:
- blurry vision
- double vision
- temporary vision loss
- seeing new floaters (lines, dots, specks) in your field of vision
- seeing flashing lights
- light sensitivity
If you have any of these vision problems during pregnancy, call your doctor right away.
Here are 5 tips for expectant mothers to keep their eyes healthy:
Diminish Dry Eye
For relief from dry eyes, check with your doctor before using over-the-counter dry eye solutions. Some may contain chemicals that could be harmful during pregnancy. If you wear contacts, wearing them for shorter periods of time can help make eyes feel less dry. Or try switching to glasses while you are pregnant. And be sure to blink often, especially when using a computer or smartphone.
Reduce Eye Puffiness
Retaining water while pregnant can lead to puffiness around the eyes. This can sometimes limit your peripheral, or side, vision. To reduce the swelling, try applying cold compresses (such as a clean, wet washcloth with cold water) or a cool gel pack over your closed eyes. Splashing cold water over your face may also help. To help reduce water retention, drink plenty of water and limit sodium and caffeine in your diet.
Let Your Eye Doctor Know You Are Expecting
If you have an eye appointment, be sure to let your eye doctor know you are pregnant. In certain cases, he or she may avoid using dilating eye drops or other tests.
Having Diabetes Means Having Extra Eye Exams
Pregnancy can worsen a condition called diabetic retinopathy. This is when diabetes damages blood vessels in your eye's retina. Make sure to have your eyes checked more frequently during pregnancy so any changes can be detected and treated right away, saving your sight.
Have Glaucoma? You May Need a Medication Adjustment
Pregnancy can affect your eye pressure, sometimes for the better. It may be possible to lower your glaucoma drug dosage, which means your baby is exposed to less medicine. Talk about this possibility with your ophthalmologist. (Never change your medication dosage without talking with your doctor first!)