Vision Changes during pregnancy
Pregnancy causes changes in nearly every part of a woman's body. While some changes are more obvious, pregnancy has even been known to affect expectant mothers' eyesight.
During pregnancy, women's bodies undergo changes in hormone levels, fluid retention, blood circulation, and metabolism. All of these effects of pregnancy can also affect your eyes and your vision.
There is a wide array of possible vision changes during pregnancy. The same build-up of fluid that causes bloating and thick ankles can also affect your vision during pregnancy.
1- Blurry Vision
As the pressure of the fluid within the eye changes, your might have blurry vision during pregnancy. Water retention can change the thickness and curve of the cornea and also the thickness of the natural crystalline lens inside the eye. Both cornea and lens are the most important parts of the eye that can determine the refractive power of the eye.
Any changes in thickness and curvature of the cornea and lens can affect the degree of refractions of lights that travel through the cornea and lens to reach the back of the eye.These lights focus to form the final image but because the position of final image is differ from that before the pregnancy, the patient will complain of blurred vision with more nearsighted and these changes affects how well you can see through your eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Most women whose vision changes during this time experience minor changes and you probably will not need to change your prescription during this time because the changes will not be substantial enough, though it is possible. These changes may reverse themselves after the baby is born but Sometimes these changes may be permanent
Water retention in cornea and crystalline lens inside the eye can cause more lights to be scattered through the cornea and the patient can experience glare mainly at night.
2- Contact Lens Fitting
Fluid retention may also cause your contacts to stop fitting in the same way they did before you got pregnant because the curvature of the cornea is change. Consider switching to Eyeglasses during your pregnancy or ask your eye doctor about whether eye drops may help your contacts fit more comfortably during this time.
3- Dry eyes
Hormonal changes can cause a decrease in tear production which can lead to burning sensation, foreign body sensation, light sensetivity, itchy eyes and also it can make the wearing of contact lens uncomfortable. You can use preservative free lubricant eye drops to relieve the symptoms of dry eyes and most of these eye drops are safe during pregnancy but you have to double check with your eye doctor about the safety of ingredients
4- Puffy Eyelid
It is common to have puffy eyelid or swelling around your eye because of the hormonal changes that cause water retention.
Sometimes puffiness around the eye can be caused by a serious condition called preeclampsia especially if it is associated with blurred vision.
5- Existing Eye condition
Existing eye conditions can also be affected by pregnancy, both in a good way or bad way
In general, intraocular pressure during pregnancy tends to be lower than usual due to hormonal changes and this is a positive thing. The most important thing is to talk to your eye doctor about the safety of using anti glaucoma eye drops during pregnancy because some of them might not be safe to the baby/
Pregnancy can increase the severity and progression of diabetic retinopathy that is why women with diabetic retinopathy should have pre-pregnancy consultation with ophthalmologist, endocrinologist and perinatologist. Tight control of blood sugar and blood pressure are very important with more follow up visits and certain guidelines to follow during pregnancy
5- Can you do lasik eye surgery during pregnancy
You should avoid undergoing lasik eye surgery during pregnancy and also for up to six months after your baby is born, since your eyesight may continue to change during this time.
Although lasik eye surgery will not hurt your baby, it could lead to over- or under-correction if performed during pregnancy, which could require you to undergo another surgery later.
Corneal thickness during pregnancy might increase and it returns to normal after giving birth and sometimes after stop breastfeeding. It is recommended to do lasik eye surgery 2-3 month after stopping breastfeeding which is the time required for the corneal thickness to return to its normal value before pregnancy.
When should you visit your eye doctor
Though most vision changes during pregnancy do not indicate a serious health problem, they should be mentioned to your doctor
If you have trouble seeing clearly during your pregnancy, visit an ophthalmologist for possible solutions, such as a prescription for new eyeglasses or contacts to be used during your pregnancy.
other visual changes that you have to contact your eye doctor for are: double vision, flashes of lights, blind spots, red eye and ocular pain.
Some serious health concerns can affect vision during pregnancy such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure or preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is a serious health condition that occurs mainly after 20th weeks of pregnancy with high blood pressure and abnormalities in liver and renal functions.
Ocular manifestations of preeclampsia are:
1- Blurred vision
2- Severe light sensitivity
3- Flashes of lights
4- Visual field defects
5- Increase in eye floaters
6- Metamorphopsia in which the straight lines appear wavy and distorted
6- Complete blindness in rare cases.
High blood pressure can cause stroke which affect the visual cortex of the brain. It can also affect the optic nerve and cause ischemic optic neuropathy. Also high blood pressure can affect the retina and cause retinal hemorrhage, retinal vein occlusions and serous retinal detachment.
Central Serous Retinopathy and Pregnancy
Central serous retinopathy (CSR) is the collection of serous fluid underneath the macular area of the retina. It is common in men more than women but pregnancy consider a risk factor for the development of CSR in women due to hormonal changes that affect vascular blood permeability.