Pregnancy causes changes to women on many levels, physically and emotionally. One health concern that may go unmentioned during a pregnancy is the visual changes that can occur.
Systemically there are huge hormone level alterations occurring in pregnant women. Females experience increases in hormone levels that can cause changes in blood, cardiovascular function, and immunology. In terms of ocular changes, women may experience difficulty in focusing on objects. Commonl, small fluctuations in eyeglass prescriptions occur. Fortunately, the variations experienced are typically transient. For this reason it is not wise to consider refractive eye surgery while pregnant or breast feeding.
There have been a few reported cases of pregnant women who experience minor losses in their peripheral vision for a short period of time.
Women can also suffer from pregnancy-induced dry eye. This can be intensified with contact lens wear. Artificial tear supplements can be used to minimize these symptoms. Some women need to be refitted with different contact lenses that are more suited for dry eye conditions.
Pregnant women who are diabetic are of particular concern. Properly maintaining control of blood glucose level is crucial to the mother and baby. Pregnancy can speed the progression of diabetic retinopath, which is a type of sight threatening retinal disease that occurs in diabetics. Diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) typically does not cause diabetic retinopathy.
Women frequently ask if they are able to use prescription eye drops while pregnant. Over the counter artificial tear supplements are of no concern to pregnant women and the baby. Most prescription eye medications such as anti-histamines, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics and glaucoma drops do not pose a serious risk to the fetus. Your obstetrician should be consulted first before using any prescription eye drops.
Not all pregnant women will experience the conditions mentioned above. Rest assured that in most cases they are temporary. Most changes that occur during pregnancy usually return to normal several months after delivery. Should you have any concerns about the affect your pregnancy is having on your vision, do not hesitate to contact your local optometrist.