How Does Pregnancy Affect Your Eyes?

by Sep 30, 2020Eye Conditions

Pregnancy is a time of change in many parts of life, where an imminent mother is experiencing a wide range of changes to her body. The eyes undergo their own changes during pregnancy, although often transient. Below are some of the common changes that may occur.

 

Refractive Error Changes

It is common for the mother to experience blurry vision due to a change in her refractive error, which can also be understood as a change in her degree of near or farsightedness. This is due to increased fluid retention throughout the body during pregnancy, including within the eye. One location for this is within the cornea, the front surface of the eye, causing a change in its thickness and curvature. This would in turn alter the prescription needed to allow one to see clearly. This is one of the changes that are transient and will likely return to normal after delivery. It is common that our optometrist will request you to wait six to nine weeks after delivery to update your prescription for glasses or contact lenses.

Diabetes and Your Eyes

During pregnancy, women can develop gestational diabetes, defined as an increase of glucose in the blood during pregnancy that resolves after delivery. Diabetes on its own can have detrimental effects on the health of the eye if not well controlled.

Thus, women with diabetes may have a higher risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, known for permanent damage and changes to the blood vessels at the back of the eye. Other risk factors for diabetic retinopathy include coexisting hypertension, preeclampsia, greater severity and duration of diabetes, etc.

It is important for pregnant mothers with diabetes to visit our optometrist routinely to look for signs of diabetes-induced changes.

 

Dry Eyes and Pregnancy

As mentioned previously, fluid can accumulate in the cornea during pregnancy, causing a decrease in sensitivity at the front of the eye. The eyes are thus less responsive to debris or dryness, exacerbating the effects of dry eyes due to lack of activation of the body’s defense responses (i.e. tearing). 

In addition, pregnancy and the associated hormonal changes disrupt the cells that are responsible for creating the aqueous fluid that makes up the tear layer. This is key as it helps keep the eye moisturized. Common symptoms of dry eye disease include a gritty, burning feeling and are often transient as well.

Although, in some cases, if dry eye disease is left untreated, the mother can have permanent damage to the front of the eye, potentially causing scarring that can alter her vision long term.

Contact lens intolerance may also be experienced, secondary to symptoms associated with dry eye disease. For this reason, it is common to wait six to nine weeks after delivery to get fitted for contact lenses again.

Eye Diseases When You are Pregnant

There are various changes that can occur to the nerve and blood vessel layers at the back of the eye. During your eye exam, our optometrist will be able to check the health of the vasculature and nerves within the eyes. Many of the possible diseases that could arise are associated with increased fluid retention during pregnancy.

For all of the reasons above, it is important to have your eyes checked during and after your pregnancy to ensure that no permanent changes have occurred.

Our eye doctors at EyeDocs Family Eye Care in Brookville, OH excel in prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye disese. Call our optometrists at 937-770-1265 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to be evaluated for how pregnancy is affecting your eyes. Our eye doctors, Dr. Kyle Maxam and Dr. Cara Wampler, provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Brookville, Ohio.

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