Can Pregnancy Affect Your Eyes? Absolutely, Experts Advise

When you’re expecting, you can “expect” certain things to change. Morning sickness might make your a.m.’s miserable, and the pepperoni pizza you once adored can make you feel like you’re going to puke. The one thing that you might not expect to experience during your pregnancy is the impact it can have on your eyesight. So, yes, pregnancy can affect your eyes, and here’s why you might not be seeing things clearly.

Whether you had 20/20 vision or a slight astigmatism prior to pregnancy, it’s not entirely uncommon to find yourself squinting or bringing tissues with you when you go to your prenatal appointments, according to Dr. James Walker, M.D. a clinical physician. “During pregnancy, hormonal changes and increased blood volume can affect various parts of the body, including the eyes,” says Walker. Sometimes known as “pregnancy eyes,” this condition can occur during your nine months, making things harder to see clearly — literally.

Here’s what you should keep an eye out for when it comes to how pregnancy can affect your eyes.

Blurry Vision

Blurry vision can occur during pregnancy due to hormonal fluctuations and changes in fluid balance. This can result in temporary changes in the shape and thickness of the cornea, affecting vision. “Blurry vision may occur at any trimester but is often transient and resolves after pregnancy,” says Walker. If vision changes are persistent or accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it’s important to consult with an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Watery Eyes

Blame it on all those extra hormones swirling around your body as well as extra fluid retention, and it can take a toll on your eyes. “Some pregnant individuals may experience increased tear production, leading to watery eyes,” says Walker. “This can occur due to hormonal changes or eye surface changes.” The extra water can actually cause your corneas to thicken and curve more. And it doesn’t require a lot of extra fluids to do damage — even a tiny amount can affect your sight, making things blurrier.

Dry Eyes

During the day, you might find that your contacts have become glued to your cornea. Dry eyes (which can happen at any point in your pregnancy) might be the ocular culprit. “Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause a decrease in tear production, resulting in dry eyes,” explains Walker. “Dry eye symptoms can include irritation, redness, itchiness, and a gritty sensation.” If the issue isn’t serious, you can use artificial tears or preservative-free lubricating eye drops to help alleviate symptoms, as long as you get the okay from your OB-GYN or optometrist. Since dryness and the subsequent irritation can make your daily morning ritual of putting on your contacts pretty unsightly, it might mean wearing glasses for part of —or all of— your pregnancy.


Exacerbation Of Pre-Existing Medical Issues

Vision problems during pregnancy might be more serious than you think. How? Well, pre-existing eye conditions or medical issues can become more pronounced during pregnancy. For example, gestational diabetes or hypertension may affect blood vessels in the eyes, leading to vision changes or eye complications, Walker explains. “It’s important for pregnant individuals with pre-existing eye conditions or medical issues to receive regular eye exams and work closely with their healthcare providers to manage their overall health and eye health,” advises Walker.


When To See A Doctor

With so many physical (and emotional) changes that happen during pregnancy, it can be challenging to know what’s par for the course — or a potential problem. What it can come down to is timing, though. “The duration of these eye changes can vary among individuals,” says Walker. “In many cases, the symptoms improve or resolve after giving birth.” However, if your eyesight seems to do a 180 — and doesn’t get better after a few days or a week — you should schedule an appointment with your doctor ASAP.

If you thought your burgeoning belly was the only thing that was going through a pregnancy-related metamorphosis, think again. Pregnancy can affect your eyesight, and in many ways. Remember, every pregnancy and individual is unique, and it’s essential to seek professional medical advice from OB/GYNs and optometrists who can provide tailored guidance based on individual circumstances and medical history. That way, you’ll be able to focus your sights on having a healthy delivery instead.

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