Pregnacy & eye problems

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Pregnacy & eye problems

During pregnancy, hormonal changes, metabolism, fluid retention and blood circulation can all affect your eyes.

 Pregnancy hormones that help your body support your growing baby better cause your tissues to retain more fluid. This can even change the shape of your eyeballs. You may become more near- or farsighted than usual to the point where you might have trouble seeing clearly with your regular prescription lenses.

However, most vision changes that women experience during this period are minor and will reverse themselves a few months after child birth. This is why most ophthalmologists advise against getting laser eye surgery for vision correction during pregnancy. 

Here’s a list of the most common vision problems and their symptoms a woman might face during pregnancy.

Dry eyes: Hormonal changes usually cause the body to produce fewer tears, so eyes are often left feeling irritated, reddened and sensitive to light. But watch out while buying eye drops for they may constrict blood vessels and increase irritation in pregnant women. Ask your pharmacist for nonvasoconstrictive drops. Also, try to cut down the time you spend looking at a computer screen, sitting under fluorescent lights, and sitting in an air-conditioned space. If you wear contact lenses, remove them and switch to glasses.

Weaker vision: Pregnant women often say that their lenses “no longer work”. But it’s more likely that their corneas are swollen from fluid retention. So unless the contacts feel tight or uncomfortable, or you need perfect eyesight at work, you don’t require a new prescription. Your vision should eventually return to normal post delivery.

Corneal oedema: Corneal sensitivity is usually observed in pregnant women, with most changes occurring in the third trimester. It may be related to the slight increase in corneal thickness that may develop from corneal oedema, making the cornea more sensitive and easily irritated. It may cause increased dryness. Therefore, instead of wearing contact lenses, keep a pair of comfortable glasses handy.

Changes in the retina: Vision problems and changes in your retina may be due to pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes. It may cause blurred vision. Be sure to monitor your blood sugar level carefully if you are diabetic and let your eye doctor know if you are experiencing blurred vision.

Central serous choroidopathy: Leakage or accumulation of fluid under the retina can also cause blurred vision. See your eye specialist immediately. 

Pituitary adenoma: A benign tumour in the pituitary gland can lead to an excess secretion of hormones. This may cause problems such as tunnel vision. This condition is rare, but be sure to contact your eye doctor if you experience episodes of tunnel vision during your pregnancy.

Glaucoma: It is a disorder of the eye characterised by an increase of pressure within the eyeball. In general, eye pressure tends to decrease during pregnancy, possibly due to the body’s hormonal changes. This may be beneficial to some women as pre-existing symptoms of glaucoma tend to improve.

Most pregnancy-related eye disorders are reversible, but the dark side is that there are few conditions which can cause permanent loss of sight like vascular occlusions and torch infections, which are to be diagnosed and treated as early as possible. Therefore, if a vision problem persists even after a month of childbirth, consult an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.

(The author is ophthalmologist, Sharp Sight Group of Eye Hospitals, New Delhi)

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