Vision Changes to Expect While You’re Expecting
Whether you’re pregnant now or are planning to become pregnant, it’s important that you understand the changes you’ll experience during pregnancy. Some physical changes are obvious—others, less so. One of the things that most future moms don’t consider is the impact of pregnancy on one’s vision. To give you a little peace of mind during your pregnancy, this article explains how (and why) pregnancy can change your vision.
A Primer on Hormones
The beginning of pregnancy brings on a cascade of hormonal modifications. The most dominant hormone is human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is made up of four independent molecules. It is present throughout pregnancy and promotes progesterone production and plays roles in maintaining the uterus, placenta and possibly in fetal development. In the first trimester, progesterone promotes the health of the uterus and helps your immune system tolerate the fertilized egg.
The hormones oxytocin, prolactin, relaxin and estrogen are also produced in high quantities – most will increase over the term of your pregnancy. Together, they are essential to maintaining a healthy pregnancy, preparing your body for birth and supporting your baby. However, the presence of so many hormones can impact your body in unpleasant ways.
Some of the side-effects of so many hormones include common pregnancy symptoms, like morning sickness, aversions to foods or smells, heartburn and water retention. Your facial skin can take on a patchy appearance, sometimes called a pregnancy mask, due to hormonal changes. Other common health conditions include anxiety, depression and high blood pressure. You might also experience fluctuations in your vision.
Vision Changes During Pregnancy
The many changes that are occurring in your body can also affect your eyes. If you have an existing eye condition, such as glaucoma, the symptoms you experience during pregnancy could be more severe. Make sure you inform your eye doctor of any conditions and follow his or her instructions during pregnancy.
There may be a decrease in tear production or your eyes could be dry and itchy, which could make wearing contact lenses uncomfortable. Before using artificial tears or other over-the-counter treatments, check with your doctor to make sure that the ingredients are safe for you.
Pregnancy can change vision by making your eyes more sensitive to light, causing headaches or migraine pain. One of the ways to help reduce headache pain is by wearing sunglasses that have mirror coating to reflect the sun’s glare.
If you’re retaining water, there may be fluid built up behind the eye or in the eyeball itself, creating adjustments to the cornea’s shape. This changes the way light passes through the eye, which can impair or distort one’s vision. You might find that your corrective lenses aren’t as effective as they were prior to getting pregnant. This is why corrective eye surgery is not recommended during pregnancy—eye surgeons are unable to take accurate measurements while the cornea is misshapen.
Another way pregnancy can change vision is by making your sight blurry. This is often temporary; usually, vision returns to normal when fluid retention is corrected and after giving birth. However, check with your obstetrician and/or your eye doctor if you’re experiencing more severe or chronic vision problems during pregnancy.
Indications that Vision Changes are Serious
Although the majority of vision changes during pregnancy are mild and temporary, the occasional vision blurriness and light sensitivity could also be indications of two very dangerous conditions: preeclampsia brought on by high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.
According to Mayo Clinic, preeclampsia is a complication that can occur at about the 20th week of pregnancy when the mother develops high blood pressure. Even a small rise in blood pressure could be a sign of preeclampsia which can develop rapidly and endanger you and your baby. Loss of vision, sensitivity to light, blurry vision and “auras” of flashing lights could be vision-related symptoms of high blood pressure.
Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of diabetes that can damage the blood vessels in the retina. Blurry vision may be a sign of gestational diabetes and as your pregnancy progresses the risk of gestational diabetes increase. Always contact your doctor if your vision becomes blurry during pregnancy.
No matter how minimal the variation to your eyesight, let your doctor know. Your health and the health of your baby are important, and checking on all unusual symptoms can help you have a healthy pregnancy from start to finish. If you need a trusted eye care professional to weigh-in on your vision changes, or if you have questions about eye care or vision correction during pregnancy, make an appointment with Barnet Dulaney Perkins today.