The Effects of Pregnancy on the Eyes

Copyright 2006 Jaks Lloyd

Your Eyes and Pregnancy

What you need to know Pregnancy is a truly wondrous experience. Every woman is aware that there are changes to her body that are entirely natural and obvious but many do not know or consider the effects of pregnancy upon the eyes.

It is important that you know of the changes that take place with your vision and eye health but do not be alarmed.

The vast majority of reasonably healthy women suffer no lasting eye health or vision problems during pregnancy and very many do not notice any changes whatsoever.

Natural bodily changes take place during pregnancy due to hormonal effects upon many organs, including the eyes.

These normal eye changes are brought about by a progressive decrease in the pressure of the fluid within the eye and associated fluid retention in the ocular tissues

Do Not Be Alarmed.

1. The sensitivity of the cornea progressively decreases throughout pregnancy, particularly during the last three months. This results in a risk to contact lens wearers who may damage the surface of the cornea more than usual. This can lead to red, sore eyes and an intolerance of contact lenses.

It is unlikely to cause any problems if there is no visual impairment or only corrective glasses are worn.

2. Ocular fluid retention can affect refraction and results in a temporary change in vision. Spectacle or contact lens wearers can find their existing prescription is either too weak or too strong. It is best to avoid having an eye test until six weeks or more after giving birth as it more than probable that vision will return to normal.

3. The pressure of the fluid in the eye, known as intra-ocular pressure, decreases. It is unlikely that this will be noticeable unless Glaucoma was diagnosed and being treated prior to pregnancy. Glaucoma is caused by raised intra-ocular pressure and is a serious condition affecting the ocular nerve. The resulting decrease in intra-ocular pressure during pregnancy is an advantageous side effect enjoyed by sufferers.

4. Some pregnant women suffer from dry eyes, which are normally only temporary and will disappear after giving birth. Ask your optrometrist for eye drops. He will know which drops you should use that will not have any detrimental effects on you or your baby. Otherwise the traditional and well known home beauty treatments will solve the problem. Rest with cotton wool soaked in witch hazel or simply cucumber slices laid on your eyes can only be beneficial. Try an eye mask straight out of the fridge.

5. Puffy or swollen areas around the eyelids are a frequent side effect during pregnancy. Drinking plenty of water and keeping to a healthy diet will actually limit water retention and relieve any discomfort.

6. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to migraine headaches and sensitivity to bright lights.

Be sure to check with your medical advisors before taking any medication to relieve the symptoms.

There are pre-existing health problems that can affect the sight which should be considered before deciding to become pregnant and should be fully discussed with your physician and ophthalmologist.

It is recommended that Diabetics see their ophthalmologist at least once a year to be aware of diabetic eye disease.

This eye disease has a tendency to worsen during pregnancy so it is very important to increase the frequency of visits starting immediately you become aware of being pregnant.

Sufferers of diabetic eye disease should consult with their ophthalmologists before planning a pregnancy.

Blood can clot more quickly when pregnant so it is important to remain sensibly active and mobile throughout the term to keep the blood circulation from slowing. If not thrombosis of the cerebral blood vessels may develop which may lead to field of vision problems and other neurological defects.

Pre-eclampsia, which is caused by high blood pressure developing during pregnancy can have a severe effect upon the eyes. Bleeding in the retina may lead to permanent vision impairment and should be treated without delay.

In rare cases, a form of skin cancer called Malignant Melanoma can develop during pregnancy.

Due to the hormonal changes that take place, the progress of this cancer becomes quicker and first indications can appear in the eye.

Another result of the changes to the body is the occasional development of diminishing vision accompanied by blank areas in the field of vision and headaches.

This is caused by pressure on the optic nerves as a result of some Pituitary Gland tumors suddenly enlarging.

WARNING

If you are using any type of medication whatsoever including most importantly eye drops for Glaucoma check with your physician and your opthalmologist without delay.

Certain treatments for eye problems can have a catastrophic effect on an unborn baby.

There are alternative medications that can be prescribed that have no harmful side effects on mothers and their unborn babies.

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