When a woman falls pregnant she may anticipate certain symptoms such as food cravings, morning sickness and an altering body shape, but did you know that pregnancy can also affect eyesight?
It is common for a woman to experience minor eye related symptoms during her pregnancy as gestation affects hormone levels that can have an impact on vision.
Does eyesight change during pregnancy?
Water retention during pregnancy isn’t just about swollen ankles and fingers, your eyes are susceptible too.
Water retention can cause refractive changes; a thickening of the cornea and an alteration to the front surface of the eye.
It is therefore not uncommon for women to experience a slight change in their prescription during pregnancy. In most cases, vision will return to normal after giving birth.
If you experience changes to your vision during pregnancy it is always advisable to seek advice from your local optician.
How does pregnancy affect your eyes?
As well as visual changes, some women also experience visual discomfort or other symptoms.
1. Headaches and migraines
Pregnancy can make your eyes more sensitive to light causing headaches and migraines. It can also make your vision blurry, but don’t worry, this is usually perfectly normal and will disappear once you have given birth.
2. Dry eyes
Dry eyes in pregnancy can be caused by hormonal changes. Your eyes can become drier due to a change in the amount of tears you produce. Symptoms of dry eye may include dryness, irritation, burning and a gritty feeling.
If you are a contact lens wearer, this can make wearing contact lenses whilst pregnant uncomfortable.
Artificial tears are the easiest way to treat your symptoms, however it is important to visit your optometrist before using any over the counter remedies to check their suitability.
3. Gestational diabetes
As pregnancy progresses, mums to be can be affected by a temporary form of diabetes that can cause blurred vision.
Gestational diabetes is usually picked up during a routine antenatal appointment and normally goes away after birth. Your doctor and midwife will help and advise you how to keep your blood sugar under control during your pregnancy.
When should you worry about vision problems in pregnancy?
Changes to your eyesight or visual disturbances during pregnancy can be a sign of a more serious condition.
Our eyes can provide warning signs of pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure, which usually occur around week 20 and can often be detected by a routine eye test.
If you experience any flashing, flickering or spots in your vision you should visit your doctor as soon as possible as this can be a warning sign of pre-eclampsia.
Tips to keep your eyes healthy during pregnancy
- Drink plenty of water as this will help to keep the eyes hydrated
- Try to get a good night’s sleep as our eyes regenerate whilst we are sleeping keeping them moistened
- The eyes can react more sensitively to certain ingredients in cosmetics and intolerance can occur. It may be wise to refrain from using cosmetics around the eye if you are suffering from any discomfort
- Lay a warm washcloth/flannel on your eyes to soothe tiredness, eye strain and headaches.
Visit your optician for a thorough eye health check and sight test during pregnancy if you notice any changes.
When to seek help about pregnancy vision symptoms
If you experience any vision problems such as eye pain, headaches or blurred vision during pregnancy then always seek help from your midwife or GP.
Your local optometrist will carry out a thorough eye examination to check the health of your eyes during pregnancy.