Eyesight changes during pregnancy are one of the most common problems. Check out the article to find out the causes for this issue and actions to be taken.
Celia Jones of Westbury, NY, used to wear contacts regularly before becoming pregnant with her oldest child. Then, first when she was pregnant and later when she was nursing, she found they were so uncomfortable she had to switch to her old glasses.
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A Common Problem
“My eye doctor said that it had something to do with all the liquids in my body going to the baby and that a lot of women have a hard time with this,” says Jones. “I have tried to wear contacts during each pregnancy but usually stop within a few days, as my eyes will be so dry that I am putting drops in them every five minutes. Now I’m expecting my fourth child and am wearing the same ugly glasses that I have been wearing for the past three years.”
Eyesight changes during pregnancy aren’t uncommon, says Byron B., an expert from Gibsonia, Pa., but he also notes that the majority of women won’t experience any changes. “Changes to eyesight are the exception to the rule and won’t happen to most women,” says Byron. “We aren’t certain why some women do have changes in vision but believe it has to do with the amount of water weight gain that causes the cornea to thicken and become more curvy, which causes changes in focus. This isn’t really surprising when you consider that the amount of water retained during pregnancy would be pathologic under any other conditions. To adjust to the increased load, blood vessels have to dilate, and this can affect the eyes.”
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Changes May Occur
Not only can these changes make contact lenses uncomfortable, but they can change the way glasses work. If a woman is already far-sighted, she usually becomes less far-sighted while pregnant. If she has normal vision or is near-sighted, she usually would become near-sighted or more near-sighted. But this doesn’t mean you should rush right out and have your prescription changed unless you’re very uncomfortable or it becomes a safety issue.
“If a woman is in her first or second trimester, we suggest she may not want to change her prescription because her eyesight may go back to normal after she recovers completely from the birth and is done breastfeeding,” says Byron. “However, we also warn women that the refractive changes may continue.”
Byron says most often women want to change their prescriptions even if only through the term of their pregnancies when it’s wintertime and when night driving becomes more difficult. Although he prefers to leave the decision to the patient, if it becomes a safety issue, it might be worth temporarily changing prescriptions.
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More Serious Issues
While the vast majority of eyesight changes during pregnancy are absolutely benign, a woman should bring all cases of eyesight changes to the attention of her doctor because there are some cases where it may signal something more serious.
One potential problem is diabetic retinopathy, a condition that only women with pre-existing diabetes need to worry about. Women diagnosed with gestational diabetes aren’t in danger from this condition. Not only do the eyesight changes due to diabetic retinopathy need to be treated, but the underlying cause needs to be addressed by the woman’s obstetrician.
To learn more about gestational diabetes : What is Gestational Diabetes? How is it Treated?
Another eyesight change women may notice is a change in the visual field or some restriction or constriction in the overall visual field. A small series of studies has shown that the pituitary gland enlarges during pregnancy and can cause some pressure on the optic nerves, which can result in some peripheral visual field changes. Byron says it’s important to mention these vision changes to your physician, as they can be a symptom of some types of tumors. Because of the increase in blood pressure associated with pregnancy, eye problems can also be a warning of an aneurysm impinging on part of the visual tract. Last, vision changes in the third trimester can indicate pre-eclampsia.
Check our another article if you are wondering about preeclampsia in pregnancy: What is Preeclampsia in Pregnancy?
Do keep in mind that the above conditions are rare and are of no concern to the majority of pregnant women. Just be sure and report vision changes to your doctor and see an optometrist.
Most important of all, if you wear contacts, when you pack your bag to go to the hospital be sure to tuck in that spare pair of glasses. Some hospitals don’t allow contacts in the labor and delivery rooms. They definitely make you take them out if there’s any chance you may have to have a C-section.
Byron knows of women who forgot to bring glasses, and labor and delivery passed in a literal blur. Although that’s not bad in some ways, it’s better to have all your faculties about you – including your sight.
Our articles are prepared to give advice. Always consult your doctor first for any problems and exact information.
The names of the people mentioned in the article have been changed for security reasons and to protect privacy.