Pregnancy and Your Eyes

pregnant mom in glasses

A woman’s body goes through tremendous changes when she becomes pregnant, so it probably isn’t surprising to learn that pregnancy can have an impact on the eyes. The effects that 40 weeks of hormones can have on a pregnant woman’s eyes can be significant. What’s more, there are certain eye treatments that are not recommended for pregnant women. That’s why we’d like to take this opportunity to address how pregnancy can affect vision and eye health.

  • Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, can happen at any time, not just during pregnancy. For a pregnant woman, though, treatment is different. If it’s viral conjunctivitis, cold compresses and artificial tears are the best way to alleviate symptoms while waiting for it to clear up. For bacterial conjunctivitis, your eye doctor can prescribe an antibiotic that’s also safe for your baby. If the conjunctivitis is due to allergies, allergy eye drops are not recommended during pregnancy, so you’ll just have to treat the symptoms. With any type of conjunctivitis, wash your hands frequently.
  • The hormonal changes of pregnancy cause many women to experience dry eyes. This can come with symptoms like light sensitivity, tearing, and the feeling of sand in the eyes. Over-the-counter artificial tears can help but make sure to choose drops that don’t contain a preservative. If you find that your dry eyes are worse when you wear contact lenses, it may be more comfortable to switch to glasses while you’re pregnant or use daily disposable lenses.
  • A woman’s eyeglasses prescription may change during pregnancy. With this problem, it may be best to wait it out. Pregnancy can cause changes in the eyes, but these are often temporary. There may be excess fluid, or the cornea may change its curvature. The retina can change during pregnancy, especially if the woman has diabetes or preeclampsia. Intraocular pressure often decreases during pregnancy, which is good news for women who had high intraocular pressure to begin with or who have glaucoma. Whatever the case with your eyes, wait for at least a few weeks after giving birth or until you’re no longer exclusively breast feeding to get a new prescription. Note: LASIK is not recommended during pregnancy or immediately postpartum.
  • Some very serious conditions in pregnancy can be indicated by trouble with the eyes.
    • Eclampsia, extremely high blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy, can cause headaches, blurry vision, flashes of light, blacking out of part of your vision, or double vision. Eclampsia is very serious, which is why you should always report changes in vision to your obstetrician or eye doctor. Most of the time, the baby must be delivered to stop eclampsia.
    • Glaucoma doesn’t typically start in pregnancy. However, most glaucoma drops increase the risk of preterm labor and can even decrease the baby’s heart rate. Talk to your doctor about how to manage glaucoma during pregnancy.
    • Gestational diabetes happens in pregnant women who have never had diabetes. This is a condition that usually goes away after delivery, but it can cause bleeding in the retina, known as retinopathy.
    • Blood clots are not uncommon in pregnancy. They can form in your legs or lungs, but can also happen in your eyes. Sudden, painless vision loss should be immediately reported to the doctor to rule out mini-stroke or artery occlusion.
    • Central serous chorioretinopathy usually occurs in people with type A personalities. It’s a blister of fluid in the macula that develops because of stress, hormones, or steroids. During pregnancy, it can occur because of hormonal fluctuations, causing blurry or suddenly dim vision, waviness in the field of vision, decreased color vision, and a sense that things look smaller in one eye than the other. Report any of these symptoms to your eye doctor.

If you’re looking for an ophthalmologist or optometrist in Derry, Londonderry, Windham, or Raymond, Spindel Eye Associates is here for you. Celebrating over thirty-five years of eye care, we proudly provide our patients with personalized eye care, using top of the line technology. For more information or to schedule an appointment call 603.421.6536 or contact us through our website.