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Pregnancy and Vision

Most expecting mothers know that they may have morning sickness or lower back pain. But many pregnant women are surprised when their vision changes. The fact is hormonal and physical changes that accompany pregnancy can affect eyesight. Fortunately, vision problems are usually minor and temporary. Eyesight typically returns to normal after your baby is born. Some vision problems associated with pregnancy may require medical attention, however.

Here are four vision problems to be aware of when you are pregnant:

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will cover prenatal services, including screening tests and breastfeeding support, at no cost to you. Learn more.

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1. Dry Eyes During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, you may notice that your eyes are drier than usual. Dry eyes can make wearing contacts irritating and uncomfortable.

What to do: Use artificial tears to lubricate your eyes and ease dryness. If you wear contacts, be sure to check the label to make sure the lubricant can be used with contacts. Ordinary artificial tears have preservatives that can harm soft contact lenses. Also, check with your doctor first to make sure the active ingredients are safe for pregnant women.

2. Blurry Vision When You're Pregnant

Fluid retention, a common side effect of pregnancy, can change the thickness and shape of the cornea. Minor changes in its shape may result in blurry or distorted vision. Fortunately, these changes usually go away after pregnancy or after you stop breast feeding.

What to do: You may not need to do anything if the changes don't bother you. If your vision alters significantly, however, talk to your doctor. You may need to change your prescription if you wear glasses. Most eye experts advise against getting lasik surgery or being fitted for new contacts during pregnancy. The reason: the shape of your cornea will revert to normal after your pregnancy is over.

3. Preeclampsia and Vision Problems

Vision changes can be a sign of preeclampsia, a potentially serious problem that occurs in 5% to 8% of pregnancies. Preeclampsia is marked by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in urine. Vision changes typically include temporary loss of vision, light sensitivity, blurry vision, auras, and the appearance of flashing lights.

What to do: If you experience any of these vision symptoms, call your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room. Preeclampsia can progress rapidly and cause bleeding problems and other serious complications.

4. Gestational Diabetes and Vision Problems

High blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can damage the small blood vessels that supply the retina of the eye. The risk of damage goes up during pregnancy. A temporary form of diabetes that sometimes occurs during pregnancy, called gestational diabetes, can also cause blurred vision.

What to do: If you have diabetes, your condition should be closely monitored during pregnancy. If you develop gestational diabetes, your condition should be monitored to keep your blood sugar levels from climbing too high. Your doctor will help advise you.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brian S. Boxer Wachler, MD on November 05, 2013

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