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Vision problems in pregnancy: what are the main changes in sight and what symptoms should alert us

During pregnancy we experience a large number of changes that not only affect the physical plane, but also the emotional and the senses, such as smell or sight.

The hormones of pregnancy and fluid retention are responsible for affecting our vision, as well as the increase in blood volume. Although these changes are generally slight and temporary, it is advisable to know how to detect them to take care of our visual health during this stage.

Here are the main vision problems that occur during pregnancy, as well as the signs and situations that should put you on alert.

Eye dryness

The quality and quantity of the tear can vary substantially during pregnancy (and also during lactation) due to the effect of hormones.

Symptoms : Among the symptoms of dry eye is the sensation of having a foreign body, burning, itching, excessive tearing, sore or fatigued eyes, heaviness in the eyelids …

These dry eye problems are more evident in women who wear contact lenses. For them, it is best to alternate contact lenses (using the appropriate artificial tears) with glasses, or to stop using contact lenses directly during these months if they feel especially uncomfortable with them.

What to do ?: It is best to go to an ophthalmologist, who could advise the use of drops compatible with pregnancy to relieve symptoms.

Likewise, there are certain foods that are especially good to combat dry eyes , such as walnuts, salmon or flax seeds, as they are high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Eye edema or swollen eyelids

Increased blood volume and changes in its properties cause fluid to accumulate in the tissues. For this reason, swelling of the ankles and feet is common, although the hands and face can also be affected. In this context , ocular edema may arise, which can cause mild blurred vision .

Increase or changes in graduation

Another of the most frequent ocular effects during pregnancy is a slight loss of vision due to the increase or change of the graduation in those women who already suffered from vision defects prior to pregnancy.

In most cases these are transitory changes that remit after childbirth or breastfeeding , although they could also be permanently maintained after these periods.

These changes occur as a consequence of fluid retention, which causes the cornea to also accumulate fluid and change its curvature; a fact that may lead to changes in the usual graduation.

The main changes that usually occur are:

  • Increased myopia, especially from week 32
  • Hyperopic pregnant women tend to experience difficulties with reading, or even with far vision if they develop the syndrome of transient accommodation insufficiency.

What to do ?: Any change in vision should be reviewed by the specialist.

Likewise, if you have myopia, want to have children and are thinking of having surgery, ophthalmologists recommend waiting until after pregnancy and breastfeeding, because during these periods it is not advisable to practice this type of surgery .

Special eye precautions during pregnancy

Pregnant with diabetes

Pregnant women with diabetes deserve special mention, as this disease can lead to other visual problems or aggravate existing ones. That is why measures must be taken to prevent or detect them in time.

If a woman had diabetes before she became pregnant , she is at increased risk of a disease called diabetic retinopathy during pregnancy.

It is estimated that up to 30% of previous diabetics develop this condition during pregnancy. Retinopathy affects the small vessels of the retina – which is the layer that covers the back of the eye and perceives light – and can be a threat to sight if the disease progresses.

What to do ?: In addition to leading a healthy lifestyle and taking care of diet, it is essential that women make regular visits to their specialist to carry out adequate control.

In this sense, the Spanish Association of Optometrists considers that the progression of diabetic retinopathy would be 90% avoidable with early treatment.

Pregnant with hypertension

Similarly, those women with high blood pressure prior to pregnancy should also take a more rigorous control of their visual health, as they are at greater risk of developing a condition called hypertensive retinopathy .

This disease causes damage to the retinal vessels that manifests itself with symptoms such as double or weakened vision, frequent headaches or blurred vision.

What to do ?: As in the case of women with diabetes, if you suffer from hypertension and are pregnant, you should carry out regular check-ups and, in the event of any change in vision, consult a specialist.

Blurry vision

As we have seen, blurred vision can be associated with mild eye problems, such as swollen eyelids, dry eyes, or a slight increase in myopia.

But in other cases, blurred vision in pregnant women could be a manifestation of a disease such as pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes, hence the importance of being alert to any symptoms and if they are continuous or are accompanied by other discomforts such as headaches. frequent vomiting, vertigo or severe pain under the ribs, see a doctor immediately.

Photos | Cover photo DepositPhotos, Interior photos Pexels

Via | College of Opticians-Optometrists of Castilla y León, Spanish Association of Optometrists

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