Pregnant Peculiarities: How Pregnancy Affected My Vision

I was prepared for the weight gain. I knew, from anecdotes told by family and friends, I'd experience the phenomenon of retaining fluid while at the same time having to visit the loo every 15 minutes or so. I was geared up, and even primed my husband, to ride an emotional roller coaster for nine months or more. I thought I had all the bases covered as far as changes I should expect during my pregnancy. Foolish girl that I was, I should have realized nature likes to save a few surprises to spring on those who think they're prepared.

The pregnancy side effect that caught me off guard was the affect it had on my vision and, so fixated was I on the changes I knew to anticipate, it took me awhile to recognize what was happening with my eyes. I didn't ever connect the dots between my unstable vision and my pregnancy. My optometrist was actually the one to point out the fact.

Parched Peepers

I wear contact lenses, so I'm prone to occasional bouts of dryness and didn't think much of the parched, gritty feeling in my eyes at first. My eye doctor said he wasn't surprised, though, that I was having more problems with dry eyes after becoming pregnant. Normally, I'd stock up on rewetting eye drops to drench my parched peepers but WebMD cautions mommies-to-be to check with their doctors first, just in case the active ingredients aren't safe for pregnant women. I had high hopes, though, for relief after reading an ABC News article that indicated that lubricating and rewetting drops are safe. Sure enough, my doctor recommended a non-steroid lubricating drop and since it wasn't prescription I could even order it online from an eye care website such as Vision Direct. I used the drops before I put my lenses in and after I took them out. They made that part of being pregnant much more bearable.

Double Vision

Extra dryness wasn't the only eye problem that plagued me while pregnant. My already bad vision seemed to worsen. Even with my contacts in, things appeared blurry and sometimes even double. It was disconcerting, but says that pregnant women can experience a thickening of their lenses and corneas, and the fluid build-up within the eyeball affects the pressure inside the eye. My optometrist did have to change my contact lens prescription during my pregnancy, but thankfully he was right when he told me it was just a temporary change. I was able to go back to my regular prescription shortly after delivery.

When Vision Problems Signal Trouble

One of the things I learned from my eye doctor and my informal web research was that sometimes a change in vision while pregnant can be a signal that there's another, more serious condition that needs to be dealt with, such as preeclampsia. If left undetected, it could progress to eclampsia which is dangerous for both mother and baby. The vision changes that raise a red flag indicating preeclampsia are blurry vision, light sensitivity, auras and flashing lights and even temporary loss of sight. Be sure to report any changes with your health, including vision changes, to your doctor to ensure early detection of any high-risk condition.

This story was written for The Pregnancy Centre 2014 by SM.