9 Things About Eye Care During Pregnancy That No One Told You About

1. Does pregnancy have affect on a woman’s vision?

Yes. Changes in hormones, metabolism, fluid retention, and blood circulation can all affect your eyes and your eyesight during pregnancy. For instance, water retention may cause the thickness and curvature of the cornea of your eye to increase slightly. Even a small change like that, can be a strong determining factor in how well your glasses or contacts correct your vision.  This is why a laser eye surgery isn’t recommended during pregnancy and why it’s not a good time to be fitted for new contact lenses.

If you experience vision changes during pregnancy, do not worry. They would probably be minor.

2. How often do you recommend an eye checkup during pregnancy?

Pregnant women with diabetes need an eye exam within the first 3 months. They also need regular examinations for approximately an year after the baby is born.

Some women do get gestational diabetes or pregnancy induced hypertension. These conditions need frequent eye checkups since they can affect the vision adversely.

3. What is the best way to care of your eyes during pregnancy?

The following symptoms aren’t normal for eye changes during pregnancy, so if you experience any of them, see your optometrist immediately:

  • Double Vision
  • Extremely Blurry Vision for prolonged times
  • Extreme Sensitivity to Light
  • Loss of vision
  • Seeing spots or Flashing Lights

The changes that you might be experiencing regarding your eyesight during pregnancy will most likely be minor only and the good news is that your eyes will return to normal once you have given birth, although some women do still report blurry vision during the breastfeeding stages.

Getting a new prescription for your glasses probably won’t be necessary either, unless you’re experiencing a significant change in your vision, in which case you should go see your optometrist just to be on the safe side. 

4. How to counter eye puffiness?

Puffy eyes are the result of water retention caused by increased hormone levels during pregnancy. To help prevent swelling, avoid salty foods and carbonated drinks and sleep with an extra pillow under your head. If you wake up with puffy eyes,  your best bet is to reach out for something cold. Place an ice pack, chilled tea bags or cool cucumber slices on your eyes for three to five minutes.

5. How to care for dry eyes during pregnancy?

Dark green, leafy vegetables contain Vitamin A which is great. Omega oils may help as well. Ask your healthcare provider about safe ways to get more omega oils. Artificial tears and lubricating eye drops are the second line of treatment. They can be used as often as every hour to help reduce the symptoms of dry eyes. Yet, the best are those that are preservative free. If your contact lenses are increasing your discomfort, you may need to switch to wearing glasses till your eyes heal from the irritation.

6. Are there any common vision problems you observe during pregnancy?

Yes, eye symptoms can signal specific problems during pregnancy. High blood pressure or preeclampsia, for example, may cause vision disturbances.

Be sure to let your doctor or midwife know immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • double vision
  • blurry vision
  • sensitivity to light
  • temporary loss of vision
  • seeing spots or flashing lights

Also call your caregiver if you notice extreme swelling or puffiness around your eyes – another symptom that may accompany preeclampsia. Eye pain or redness should also prompt a call to your caregiver.

7. Is it safe to go through LASIK during pregnancy?

Pregnancy is not a good time to have the vision-correction surgery known as LASIK. It’s not unsafe for your baby – but pregnancy hormones can throw off your prescription for a toss.

Eyesight usually swings to nearsightedness during early stages of pregnancy while swinging to farsightedness for the mom-to-be. The correction you get while pregnant might no longer work once you have your baby and stop breastfeeding.

8. Does my being diabetic affect my eyes more during pregnancy?

If you have diabetes, you are susceptible to the development or causing a rapid increase in the progression of diabetic retinopathy during your pregnancy. 

Diabetes is a condition in which your blood sugar level is too high because your body can’t store it in properly. High sugar level in blood can cause damage to the tiny blood vessels which supply blood to the retina in the eye.

This damage may result into abnormal growth of new blood vessels along the retina causing diabetic retinopathy.

People who have diabetic retinopathy, experience blurred vision and in some cases, significant vision loss and in rare cases even permanent blindness.

Gestational diabetes is another form of diabetes which a woman might develop when she is pregnant. This type of diabetes affects roughly 2 percent of pregnant women and it occurs if the woman’s body cannot produce enough insulin to meet the extra needs of pregnancy.

In about 95 percent of gestational diabetes cases, the blood sugar returns to normal after giving birth. However, the women who develop gestational diabetes are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

If you have any type of diabetes (type 1, 2 or gestational), you should have at least 1 thorough eye examination during pregnancy. Get your eyes examined more often if your situation allows, especially if your blood sugar levels are not stable. 

Control your blood sugar levels at all cost, safely.
9. Are there any other questions (related to pregnancy) that you feel should be addressed?

If you get infections, conjunctivitis or sore eyes during pregnancy, inform the doctor about it. He/she will then prescribe you preservative free antibiotic drops which are safe to use and safe for the baby too.

 

Dr. Nikhil Nasta, MS, DNB, ICO (UK)

Dr. Nikhil Nasta, is a leading eye surgeon in Mumbai. He is the founder of the IsightEyecare and Surgery super specialty eye hospitals. He is an honorary medical teacher and has many academic publications to his credit.

At The Moms Co., Dr. Nasta shares his tips and advice on eye care for moms, especially pre and post-delivery.

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