When you're expecting, you know your body is going to change. Many women anticipate stretch marks, joint pain, and increased weight, but less well-known changes can catch them off guard. In fact, your eyes can experience unexpected changes when you're pregnant.
Here are some tips for adjusting to vision changes and protecting your eyes during pregnancy.
Hold Out for New Contacts, New Glasses, or Surgery
Because of greater water retention in your body during pregnancy, the shape and thickness of your cornea can change slightly. Most doctors do not recommend corrective vision surgery during pregnancy or even a fitting for a contact prescription at the end of pregnancy because of this corneal change.
Investing in a new pair of quality frames and lenses is also not recommended, as glasses are often too expensive to be used for temporary change. They are intended to last for a longer period of time, but new lenses in a previous frame or even on-day contacts can help some big vision changes. If you are unable to see properly due to changes in your vision during pregnancy, however, you'll need to talk to your eye doctor about the best temporary solution.
Don't worry—the change is not permanent and it should correct itself after pregnancy, although eye changes sometimes continue while mothers are nursing. Unfortunately, these changes are difficult to properly assess and treat until the woman gets her first period during or after breastfeeding.
Arm Yourself With Eye Drops
Many women, especially those who wear contacts, will find their eyes are drier during pregnancy. You should talk to your doctor about the best type of eye drops to use for dry eyes, as some might not be suitable for pregnancy.
Also, if you wear contacts, you may need to switch to wearing your glasses to help protect against drier eyes. Contacts naturally increase eye dryness, and combined with pregnancy, the lack of moisture can harm your eyes.
Rely on Cool Pressure
Increases in fluid retention in the body can also cause the area around the eyes to swell, making your eyes appear puffy. You can help relieve the puffiness and discomfort of the swelling by using cold compresses, like a refrigerated gel pack or cold wash cloth.
You'll find that puffiness is also reduced if you take special care to drink plenty of water. Your body retains less fluid when it is well hydrated.
Take Extreme Vision Changes Seriously
Vision changes can be one of the first indicators that something is wrong and that you need emergency medical attention. For example, women who experience blurry vision or see pops of light appear could have a developing condition called pre-eclampsia. The vision changes occur because of dangerously high spikes in blood pressure.
Pre-eclampsia can develop into full toxemia, and it can be life threatening to the mother. The usual treatment for pre-eclampsia is delivering the baby, even if the infant will be premature.
Talk to Your Eye Doctor About Existing Eye Problems
For women who already have eye trouble, pregnancy can sometimes make symptoms worse. For example, diabetic women who suffer from diabetic retinopathy should have regular eye exams during pregnancy to make sure the condition is not advancing from increased pressure in the eye. Patients with glaucoma also need additional care.
Take Care During Morning Sickness
Many women experience nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, particularly in the early stages. Sometimes, violent episodes of illness can cause blood vessels in the eyes to burst. This bursting causes the white of the eye (the sclera) to look bloody and red. While this redness can look scary, usually it is not a problem. Think of the mark as a bruise in the eye, like a bruise you might have on the surface of your skin.
However, if you're experiencing so much nausea that you are not able to remain hydrated and suffer rapid weight loss, it's not just your eyes you should worry about. You may need to speak with you doctor about treatment for severe morning sickness.
For more information on eye changes during pregnancy, contact us at Absolute Vision Care.