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Dealing With Vision Issues During and After Pregnancy: What Mums Can Do

Molly Nicholls

Dealing With Vision Issues During and After Pregnancy: What Mums Can Do

Written by
Molly Nicholls

There are a myriad of symptoms that pregnant women can expect, commonly including morning sickness, fatigue, and mood changes. These are normal changes that happen as your body adapts to growing a baby. However, there are other symptoms that may be a warning sign that shouldn't be ignored, such as bleeding coupled with pelvic pain, persistent abdominal pain, and severe headaches. Another symptom that may require a visit to your midwife or GP is changes in your eyesight. 

Below, we'll look at vision-related complications that may arise during and after pregnancy, what they mean, and what you can do about it. 

Pregnancy-related vision issues

During and after pregnancy, women may experience various vision-related issues like blurred vision, dry eyes, changes in refractive error, and increased intraocular pressure (IOP). These problems are often attributed to hormonal fluctuations, fluid retention, and changes in corneal curvature. For instance, a cross-sectional study of pregnant women reported a myopia prevalence rate of 26.48% out of 423 respondents, mainly due to elevated progesterone and testosterone levels.

Meanwhile, an investigation published in the Diabetes Care journal found that pregnant women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) had a higher prevalence of visual disturbances, including blurred vision, compared to those without the condition. The researchers suggested that these visual changes were likely because of metabolic changes that occur with GDM. Moreover, blurry vision in the context of GDM may also signal potential complications such as diabetic retinopathy. This is a serious eye condition that damages blood vessels in the retina and may lead to vision loss if left untreated. 

Hormonal changes can also dry your eyes out and leave you with little or no extra tears for lubrication. Researchers in Ghana concluded that this condition, known as dry eye disease, occurs frequently in pregnant women, ranging from the first to the third trimester, and it is associated with increasing gestational age. Fortunately, this can easily be treated using lubricating eye drops that ease dryness. 

Image credit: Unsplash

What you can do to manage your eye health

It's crucial for pregnant women experiencing vision changes to seek prompt evaluation from an eye care professional to ensure proper management and monitoring, alongside regular prenatal care to address any underlying risk factors. Women diagnosed with GDM, in particular, should see their optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam once per trimester to observe the blood vessels in the eye and ensure that steps are being taken to minimise the risk of diabetic retinopathy.

For this, it’s best to opt for a comprehensive eye exam that evaluates more than just your vision but analyses your overall eye health, as well. At Vision Express, you can undergo an advanced eye test, which includes an eye health screening using OCT 3D eye scan technology to detect eye conditions like dry eye early. Routine comprehensive eye exams are also helpful for detecting other health conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Just make sure that you are hydrated, your eyes are well-rested, and let the clinic know about your pregnancy and any other existing medical condition prior to your visit.

In addition to regular eye tests, it's important for pregnant women to be screened for GDM. Typically, this is done via an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) when you're between 24 and 28 weeks pregnant. If you are confirmed to have GDM, controlling your blood sugar levels will be vital to reduce further pregnancy complications. This may require lifestyle changes like a healthier diet and being more active, as well as the use of a blood sugar testing kit to monitor the effects of treatment.  

While vision-related issues during and after pregnancy can be concerning, they are often temporary and manageable with proper care and attention. It's essential for expectant and new mothers to prioritise regular eye tests, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and communicate any changes in vision to their healthcare provider promptly to ensure a smooth transition to motherhood.

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