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Whether you recently discovered that you’re pregnant or you’re nearing the end of your pregnancy, you know that your body will undergo or has undergone dozens of changes. Some changes you might expect, like an expanding belly to accommodate your growing baby.

However, you might be less familiar with other changes. For example, did you know that pregnancy can affect your vision and eye health? While most of the changes to your eyes aren’t serious, many of them can cause you to feel uncomfortable.

In our blog, we’ll explain exactly how pregnancy affects your vision and overall eye health so you can fully prepare yourself for the months ahead.

Vision Changes You’ll Experience

Many women experience changes to their vision when they become pregnant. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common issues that pregnant women face.

Dry Eye

Before you became pregnant, you likely experienced dry eye when you stared at your computer screen too long or as a side effect of medications like antihistamines. Throughout your pregnancy, though, you’ll likely experience this eye condition much more often.

While you’re pregnant, your body’s hormones may affect your eyes’ tear production. Specifically, your eyes might not produce as many tears or as much moisture as they usually do. This reduced lubricant in your eyes makes them feel drier and more uncomfortable.

If you wear contact lenses, your eyes may feel even more irritated and drier than normal. If possible, wear eyeglasses during the remainder of your pregnancy to alleviate your dry eyes. You could also use artificial tears to moisturize your eyes. But check with your eye doctor before you use artificial tears so you know which you can safely use during pregnancy.

Puffy or Swollen Eyelids

Again, because your body’s hormone levels change during pregnancy, your body experiences a few side effects. Another change you’ll experience is water retention. As your body holds onto the water you take in, you may even notice that your eyelids look puffy or swollen.

Though this side effect isn’t anything too serious to worry about, it may just cause you to feel uncomfortable. If you eat a healthy, low-sodium diet and drink plenty of water, you can reduce the amount of water your body retains. Your swollen or puffy eyelids should return to normal.

Blurry Vision

Another side effect of water retention during pregnancy is blurry vision. Not only do your eyelids swell during pregnancy, but your corneas swell up also. Typically, the shape and thickness of your cornea will change as you retain fluids, so your vision may start to blur as a result.

You may want to visit your eye doctor and get a new eyeglass prescription once you notice this change in your vision. However, your vision should return to normal after your give birth or stop breastfeeding. If the change in your vision is slight, you should be fine to use your current eyeglass prescription to see.

But if your vision is severely blurry, consult your eye doctor immediately. He or she will examine your eyes to ensure no other conditions have caused this side effect.

Other Health Issues That Affect Your Eye Health

A few other health conditions that you may develop during pregnancy can also impact your vision and ocular health. These conditions include:

  • Preeclampsia. This rare condition occurs in five to eight percent of pregnancy cases. Previously known as toxemia, preeclampsia can put both the mother and baby at risk. Women with this condition often have high blood pressure and high levels of protein in their urine. Preeclampsia can also cause the appearance of flashing lights, auras, blurry vision, and sensitivity to light in pregnant women.
  • Gestational diabetes. This is a form of diabetes that women only develop when they become pregnant. High blood sugar levels can damage the small vessels that supply blood to your retinas, and this damage could lead to other serious eye problems. This condition can also cause blurry vision.

If you are at risk for developing preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, work closely with your health care physician and your eye doctor. Together, these professionals can help you maintain good overall and eye health for the remainder of your pregnancy.

Steps to Take to Maintain Good Vision and Eye Health

Though you, like most women, will develop one minor eye condition or another when you become pregnant, you can still take a few steps to maintain good eye health during this time period. Stop any habits that not only affect your vision, but are also bad for your growing baby, such as smoking.

You should also eat a well-rounded, healthy diet to supplement eye health. Make sure to avoid foods that could be harmful for your child, such as raw fish or cold lunchmeats.

Throughout your pregnancy, visit your ophthalmologist or optometrist for regular checkups. If you have other questions about how pregnancy affects your vision, visit an All About Eyes location near you. An eye doctor can address your concerns, provide you with effective and safe treatment, and offer additional tips so you can maintain your vision during and after your pregnancy.

Although you won’t have much cause to worry about your vision during your pregnancy, you should take preventative measures, such as those listed above, to maintain good eye health and ensure the health of your baby.