There are many changes that come with pregnancy, from weight gain, skin fluctuations, and hair loss or gain. But one thing you may be surprised to learn is that your vision can change in pregnancy. Some expecting women go through no visual changes at all, whereas others can experience varying prescriptions and other side effects.
Below, we explore how pregnancy can change your vision and what you can expect from your eyesight while expecting.
Pregnancy Can Change Your Prescription
According to WebMD, pregnancy can cause blurry vision and can actually change your prescription. Since the body retains more fluids in pregnancy, this can alter the thickness and shape of the cornea, resulting in distorted vision.
Baby Center adds that blurred vision is the most common visual side effect of pregnancy, and often occurs in the second or third trimester. The good news is that your eyesight usually returns to what it was pre-pregnancy several months after giving birth or once breastfeeding has ceased.
You may not need to do anything if your eyesight changes in pregnancy. However, if it changes to the point where it’s affecting your daily life, you may want to consider upgrading your glasses and/or contact lens prescription.
We recommend speaking to your ophthalmologist or optometrist if you believe you may need an updated prescription in pregnancy, or if you’re concerned about how pregnancy is affecting your vision.
Eye Surgery Isn’t Recommended In Pregnancy
Since it’s possible for your prescription to fluctuate in pregnancy, it’s often not recommended to undergo eye surgery, such as laser vision correction, since it may render the results of the surgery ineffective if your eyesight returns to what it formerly was pre-pregnancy.
Additionally, dry eye is a common (albeit temporary) side effect of both pregnancy and vision correction procedures, which is another reason eye surgery isn’t often recommended while expecting, since it may exacerbate the discomfort.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends waiting at least a month after giving birth to undergo a vision correction procedure.
Similarly, it’s also recommended to wait until you’ve ceased breastfeeding before undergoing eye surgery, since your prescription may not return to what it was pre-pregnancy if you’re nursing.
Pregnancy Can Cause Dry Eye
Even if your prescription doesn’t change in pregnancy, you may experience dry eye while expecting. Dry eye occurs when the tears can’t provide adequate lubrication for the eyes. It can cause discomfort, including a stinging or burning sensation.
Mayo Clinic explains the symptoms can include:
- Red eyes
- Eye fatigue
- Watery eyes
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Mucus in or around the eyes
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Stinging, burning, or scratchy sensation in the eyes
It’s possible to treat dry eyes with over-the-counter eye drops or artificial tears. You may require a stronger prescription, for which your eye doctor can assist you. Speak to your eye care professional for more information if you’re struggling with this uncomfortable symptom, pregnant or not.
Certain Pregnancy Conditions Can Affect The Eyes
If you’re diagnosed with a specific condition in pregnancy, including preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, you may experience changes to your vision, which can be permanent or temporary.
Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that’s characterized by high blood pressure. If left untreated, it can be of great risk of maternal and fetal health, including organ damage. It’s usually detected around 20 weeks of gestation.
WebMD explains that certain vision changes can be a side effect of preeclampsia, including:
- Blurred eyesight
- Sensitivity to light
- Temporary loss of vision
- Experiencing auras or spots
The publication recommends that pregnant women who experience any of the aforementioned symptoms should seek medical attention as soon as possible in order to treat the preeclampsia.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops specifically in pregnancy. The CDC estimates it affects between 2-10% of pregnant women each year. It occurs when the body can’t produce enough insulin, which is the hormone produced by the pancreas that allows blood sugar into the body’s cells to create energy.
In pregnancy, hormonal changes may cause insulin resistance – when the body can’t use insulin as efficiently, thus resulting in diabetes.
WebMD explains that high blood sugar levels can damage the small blood vessels that connect to the retina, resulting in blurred vision. As such, it’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels in pregnancy and be vigilant for any potential side effects of elevated levels.
Central Serous Chorioretinopathy or Central Serous Retinopathy (CSC or CSR) is a rare condition that occurs when fluid begins to accumulate under the eye’s macula, causing blurry vision or blind spots. The cause of this condition is unknown.
Baby Center reports that this condition is very unlikely, and only affects approximately 4 in 17,000 pregnant women per year. It’s most likely to develop in your final trimester, but the vision often returns to what it was pre-pregnancy following delivery.
Finally, you may experience visual changes if you suffer from migraines in pregnancy. Though the cause of migraines isn’t fully understood, research has linked it to estrogen, which is why women experiencing pregnancy, menopause, or menstruation are more likely to suffer from migraines, WebMD explains.
There are many side effects linked to migraines, including visual changes such as vision loss, sensitivity to light, or visual phenomena (including auras, bright spots of lights, and seeing shapes).
BabyCenter explains that migraines are most common in the first and second trimesters. The publication recommends contacting your doctor if you experience any vision loss or disturbances following a migraine to rule out other possible causes.
As always, we encourage you to reach out to a healthcare professional if you begin to experience visual changes in pregnancy. They’ll be able to determine if the changes are cause for concern or if they’re normal side effects of pregnancy.
Moreover, they can provide you with more information on what to expect, including when the visual changes will resolve themselves and if there’s anything you should be doing in the meantime due mitigate the discomfort or inconvenience.
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