October 28, 2021

Pregnancy And The Eyes

Pregnancy affects the body in different ways including the eyes.

Some women may experience blurred vision at distance (driving, watching TV) or near (reading, computer) due to a shift in their glasses prescription during pregnancy. It is not uncommon for the prescription to shift back to the pre-pregnancy prescription after delivery. It is recommended not to change the glasses prescription as long as the difference in vision is not too great.

Along with changes in prescription, contact lens wearers may also develop intolerance slight discomfort while pregnant. Due to hormonal changes, the front surface of the eye can swell up slightly and tear production decreases, causing the eyes to dry out. Contact lenses need to stay moist so it will absorb the tears that are supposed to lubricate the surface of the eye. The symptoms of dryness include foreign body sensation, tearing, scratchy red eyes which get worse with contact lens use. Artificial tears help lubricate and alleviate the irritation and can be used as needed.

Hygiene is very important with contact lens use. Infection or irritation is more common when touching the eyes a lot or when contacts are overused. Sleeping or wearing contact lenses for long hours prolongs the exposure of bacteria and debris to the surface of the eye thus increasing the chance of eye infections. In pregnancy many antibacterial drugs are not considered safe. All infections (including eye infections) become harder to treat. Preventative medicine is always the best medicine- having good contact lens practices ensures avoidance of eye infections altogether.

Changes within the blood vessels can also occur when the pregnant mother has hypertension or diabetes. Preexisting diabetics are at a higher risk of developing complications than those diagnosed with gestational (pregnancy induced) diabetes. In diabetes blood vessel walls can be affected, leaking blood out onto the retina (the back layer of the eye). Normally, blood vessels carry nutrients and oxygen to the retinal tissue. If there is damage to the blood vessels (from diabetes or high blood pressure) not enough blood (nutrients/oxygen) can reach the retinal tissue. This causes damage to the retina resulting in a decrease or loss of vision. Maintaining good control of blood pressure and blood sugar is very important to avoid eye problems.

If you have any concerns or questions see your eye doctor.

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