How your eyesight changes during pregnancy
What to expect when you are expecting
During pregnancy, the body undergoes many changes, both hormonal and physical. The eyes are no exception. Many women are surprised to hear this and with the distractions of everything else happening at this time, it is something that can be overlooked.
Many of the changes experienced during pregnancy are reversible and no cause for concern. Your sight should return to normal after your baby is born but some problems may require medical attention.
What to look out for
Here are some eyesight changes to look out for:
Many women are aware of the possibility of pigmentary changes to the skin during pregnancy. This is reversible and can affect as many as 90% of pregnant women. This temporary increase in pigmentation can affect the eyelids and can also cause existing pigmentation (called a conjunctival naevus) to increase in size. This generally only requires observation.
Some pregnant women notice mild changes to their vision and may feel as though their prescription needs updating. During pregnancy, many women retain fluid, and this can also occur in the lens and the cornea. Our advice is usually just to monitor things as the vision often returns to normal once you have had the baby or stopped breastfeeding.
Hormonal changes can affect the structure of the tear film and cause dry eye. This can make the eyes feel gritty and can make wearing contact lenses uncomfortable. Preservative free artificial tears can alleviate the discomfort and your optometrist can advise you on what to use.
Your midwife will often warn you to look out for blurring/loss of vision. This can be a sign of raised blood pressure or pre-eclampsia which requires prompt treatment. It can also manifest with double vision, increased light sensitivity or flashes and floaters. If you experience any of these, you should seek advice from your optometrist or GP/midwife promptly.
Pre-existing eye conditions
If you have other associated general health conditions such as diabetes or thyroid disease that are known to impact the eyes, it is important that these are regularly reviewed by a medical professional.
If you are on treatment for a pre-existing ocular condition, you should check that any treatment you currently take is safe during pregnancy.
Farah Topia is a Clinical Adviser at the AOP and a specialist optometrist