Eye Health in Pregnancy

Pregnancy prompts changes to a woman’s body in many ways. Hormones, water retention, and fluctuating blood pressure during pregnancy can have an effect on many parts of the body and the eyes are no exception.

Eyesight changes during pregnancy are common and most changes to your eyes and vision whilst pregnant will resolve themselves and return to normal postpartum. But your eyes can also give insight into what is happening in your body and it’s prudent to be aware of other eye risks that could, in some circumstances, indicate underlying health concerns.

Can being pregnant affect your eyes?

Yes – being pregnant can affect your eyes. The hormonal and physical changes that occur during pregnancy can influence your eyes and your vision.

Pregnancy hormones can cause water retention in some areas of the body which can slightly thicken the cornea and trigger blurred or impaired vision.

Those fluctuating hormones can also reduce the number of tears your eyes produce, resulting in dry or irritated eyes during pregnancy. And that water retention can also cause eye puffiness as the tissues surrounding the eyes swell during pregnancy.

Changes to vision during pregnancy usually occur in the second and third trimesters and can continue for a short while after the baby is born, particularly whilst breastfeeding.

Risks to the eyes during pregnancy

Whilst most eye changes during pregnancy pose no serious health concerns, other vision symptoms could indicate underlying conditions and potential risks to either mother or baby.

Pre-eclampsia, pregnancy-related high blood pressure, is a potentially dangerous condition that develops in the latter half of pregnancy.

Problems with vision during pregnancy – especially blurriness, seeing flashes, temporary vision loss, and light sensitivity – can indicate high blood pressure and possible pre-eclampsia.

Vision problems are one of the major symptoms of pre-eclampsia along with headaches; abdomen pain; vomiting; and sudden swelling of the face, hands, or feet.  If you notice any signs of pre-eclampsia, it’s important to seek medical advice straight away as it poses risks to both the mother and baby if it’s not treated. 

Less commonly, blurry vision can also indicate gestational diabetes – high blood sugar during pregnancy. If diagnosed, gestational diabetes can be controlled by regulating blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, and in some cases insulin injections.

How to look after your eyes during pregnancy

Opt for glasses rather than contact lenses if you’re suffering from dry eyes or eye irritation. Before using eye drops or solutions to relieve dry eyes, check with your optometrist that they are suitable for use during pregnancy.

If your eyes are feeling puffy whilst you are pregnant, drink plenty of water, limit your salt and caffeine intake, and apply cool compresses over your closed eyes to help minimise puffy peepers.

Avoid long periods looking at screens like the television, computers, and phones to help control eye discomfort and irritation.

Should I get my eyes checked while pregnant?

Changes to vision during pregnancy are usually temporary and will typically return to normal once hormones are rebalanced, but if you do experience any changes to your eyes or eyesight whilst pregnant, it’s always important to visit your optician just in case these problems are being caused by something other than pregnancy hormones.

Because any changes to the eyes may be caused by the pregnancy, it’s usually a good idea to wait until at least two months after the baby is born to be fitted for new contact lenses or purchase new glasses.

There is no free eye provision on the NHS during pregnancy but if you have a routine eye test booked whilst pregnant, be sure to let your optometrist know that you are expecting.

Book your eye examination today

If you are worried about changes to your eyes or vision during pregnancy, our optometrists can help with advice at any time, offer guidance on how to look after your eyes if you are feeling discomfort, and examine your eyes to assess any underlying symptoms.

In your eye examination, your optometrist can help to resolve and relieve any visual issues and ascertain if they are linked to your pregnancy. Regular eye checks can help to keep your vision and eyes healthy throughout your pregnancy and beyond.

Get in touch today to book an eye test in Lee-On-The-Solent or Wickham with one of our experienced optometrists.

Alternatively email lee@optomeyes-eyecare.co.uk or wickham@optomeyes-eyecare.co.uk and one of the team will call you back to book your appointment.