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Influence of Pregnancy on Sight

During pregnancy, women undergo several physiologic changes throughout their bodies. We often talk of hormones, water retention, circulatory issues or nausea however, the sight can also be affected by pregnancy.

What expecting mothers should know

Influence of Pregnancy on Sight
Freepik ©

According to a study done by “L’Association nationale pour l’amélioration la vue (AsnaV) one out of four women notices changes in her vision during pregnancy. In general, those changes are minor and will disappear after weaning. However, there can be more serious cases requiring immediate medical assistance. And many women remain unaware of potential consequences from their pregnancy on their vision. Those symptoms can affect any pregnant women whether they have corrective lenses or not.

Vision specialists recommend a wait of six to nine months after delivery before changing eyeglasses, to give enough time for the sight to potentially re-adjust itself.

Water retention

During pregnancy women tend to retain more water. This common phenomenon can be seen in swollen ankles, fingers, wrist and face. When linked to vision, water retention can cause a swelling of the cornea also changing its curvature and augmenting its sensitivity as it may affect the function of the corneal nerves responsible for pain sensation. This change may also alter sight. No need to worry, those symptoms are common during pregnancy and are usually temporary, the situation will usually come back to normal after the pregnancy. In some rare cases the changes can be permanent and a consultation with the optometrist becomes necessary.

Dry eyes

Your eyes are itchy? Having problem with your contact lenses? Those could be symptoms of dry eyes. Dryness and irritation of the eyes caused by the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy are another common issue during pregnancy. The hormonal fluctuations can reduce tear production therefore leading to dryness of the eyes. Again, like the change to sight due to water retention, these symptoms tend to disappear after pregnancy but in certain cases they may be permanent and may require a prescription. Less tear production during pregnancy can also make the wearing of contact lenses more uncomfortable and difficult.

Precautions with Gestational Diabetes

Diabetes, with time, can do damage to the blood vessels of the retina, the photosensitive layer at the back of the eye responsible for sending “images” to the brain. Therefore, women suffering from diabetes or gestational diabetes are more at risk of having serious ocular issues that can worsen during pregnancy and cause permanents damage to the blood vessels of the retina. Vision can be very blurry, women can be sensitive to light, experience floaters or loose part of their vision.

In those cases, it is important to have screening done for diabetic retinopathy before pregnancy, at the beginning of it and monitoring during the pregnancy. This phenomenon tends to worsen during the pregnancy and if going unchecked, can cause permanent blindness.

In conclusion, many changes can occur during pregnancy. Most are temporary, annoying at best even though they may last until weaning. A consultation with your optometrist is still highly recommended the health of your eyes and vision before, during and after pregnancy.



Quentin Reinhart – 28 September 2019

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Ottawa ON K1N 5P4

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