According to a recent survey conducted by the American Optometric Association (AOA), moms rank seeing their newborn baby for the first time as their top milestone moment during pregnancy and those first days of motherhood. Yet, many moms-to-be aren’t aware that pregnancy brings an increase in hormones that may cause changes in vision, including dry eyes, puffiness around the eyes and light sensitivity.
In most cases, these are temporary eye conditions that will return to normal after delivery, says Dr. Lindsey Clyde, of Valley Eyecare Center in Phoenix, AZ. “It’s important that women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant keep their eye doctor up-to-date about their overall health. They should inform us of any pre-existing conditions, such as glaucoma, high blood pressure or diabetes, so we can closely monitor any changes in vision during this exciting time in a patient’s life.”
While the majority of vision changes during pregnancy are mild and temporary, the occasional vision blurriness and light sensitivity could also be indications of two very dangerous conditions: preeclampsia, brought on by high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of diabetes that can damage the blood vessels in the retina. Patients should contact their doctor of optometry if their vision becomes blurry during pregnancy, as it may indicate elevated blood sugar levels. Women with preexisting type 1 or type 2 diabetes, in particular, are at risk of developing and/or the progression of diabetic retinopathy.
To lessen the discomfort of dry eyes, lubricating or rewetting eye drops are recommended and are perfectly safe to use while pregnant or nursing. Since puffy eyes may interfere with side vision, patients should increase their water intake and stick to a moderate diet, low in sodium and caffeine. These healthy habits can help limit water retention and boost their overall comfort. Migraine headaches are another common symptom during pregnancy, which can make eyes feel more sensitive to light. One of the ways to help reduce headache pain is by wearing sunglasses that have mirror coating to reflect the sun’s glare. However, if a patient is pregnant and suffering from frequent migraines, they should consult with their doctor before taking any prescription or non-prescription migraine headache medications.
A good rule of thumb is: No matter how minimal the variation to one’s eyesight, patients should let their eye doctor know. Pregnant women should also maintain their regularly scheduled visits for an in-person, comprehensive eye exam that can detect any potential issues that may have no obvious warning signs. Their health and the health of their baby are important, and checking on all unusual symptoms can help have a healthy pregnancy from start to finish.
For more information about eye and vision health, book an appointment at Valley Eyecare Center today!