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How Pregnancy Can Affect Your Eyesight

Pregnancy can impact almost every part of a woman’s body and health — including her eyes. In fact, an estimated 14% of pregnant women report experiencing visual changes during pregnancy that usually resolve on their own within a couple of months after giving birth. 

Knowing the different visual symptoms that can present when you’re expecting can help alert you to potential underlying health concerns that your physician may need to address. 

Normal Visual Changes During Pregnancy

Blurred Vision

Blurred vision is the most common visual symptom that pregnant women may experience. Hormonal fluctuations are usually to blame for the temporary decrease in visual acuity, and your eyesight will likely return to normal soon after giving birth. 

The influx of pregnancy hormones causes fluid retention in some areas of the body and can cause the cornea to thicken slightly. As a result, the light entering the eye isn’t focused accurately and vision may be blurred. 

Less commonly, blurred vision can signal gestational diabetes, a pregnancy complication affecting 6-9% of pregnant women. The rise in blood sugar level impacts the focusing lens of the eye, leading to blurry vision. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, including gestational diabetes, it’s a good idea to book an eye exam to monitor for retinal changes.

Blurred vision is also a common side effect of dry eye syndrome, a condition characterized by tears that don’t adequately lubricate the eyes, which can be brought on or exacerbated by pregnancy. 

Eye Dryness

Pregnancy hormones can cause a reduction in the amount of tears your eyes produce or affect the quality of the tears. These changes can affect a woman throughout her entire pregnancy, but studies show that eye dryness is particularly common in the last trimester. For this reason, some women find it difficult to wear contact lenses in their third trimester and temporarily switch to glasses. 

Eye Puffiness

Yet another body part that swells during pregnancy: the eyelids and tissues around the eyes. 

Pregnancy-related water retention may cause your eyelids to appear puffier than during your pre-pregnancy days. You may also notice darker areas under the eyes. If your puffy eyes bother you, try limiting your salt and caffeine intake, as they can worsen the problem. 

Visual Changes That May Indicate a Problem

The following visual changes warrant a prompt call to your eye doctor or obstetrician to rule out any underlying complications. 

Flashes or floaters

Seeing stars during pregnancy can signal high blood pressure, which is associated with preeclampsia — a serious medical condition that requires close monitoring by your physician and possible treatment. 

It’s crucial to have your blood pressure monitored throughout your pregnancy, as preeclampsia can potentially endanger the life of mother and child, as well as damage the cornea and retina. 

Temporary vision loss

Temporary vision loss is concerning for pregnant and non-pregnant individuals. Vision loss is another warning sign of preeclampsia, so contact your doctor promptly if you suddenly lose any portion of your visual field. 

Sensitivity to light

Light-sensitivity can either be a normal side effect of fluid retention in the eye, or it can signal dangerously high blood pressure and preeclampsia. 

How We Can Help

At ​​American Vision Center - Bloomington, our goal is to keep your vision and eyes healthy throughout your pregnancy and beyond. If you experience any visual symptoms, we can help by thoroughly examining your eyes to determine the underlying cause and provide you with guidance on what next steps to take. 

Pregnancy is a wonderful time, when self care should be at the forefront — and that includes comprehensive eye care. 

To schedule an eye exam or learn more about our eye care services, call American Vision Center - Bloomington in Bloomington today!

 

Q&A

Why are regular eye exams important? 

Having your eyes evaluated by an optometrist on a regular basis is crucial for detecting early signs of eye diseases and changes in your prescription, including during pregnancy. Many serious eye diseases don’t cause any noticeable symptoms until they’ve progressed to late stages, when damage to vision may be irreversible. Whether or not you wear glasses or contact lenses for vision correction, ask your optometrist about how often to schedule a routine eye exam. 

Will my baby need an eye exam after  birth? 

According to the American Optometric Association and the Canadian Association of Optometrists, babies should have an eye exam within the first 6-12 months of life, even in the absence of noticeable vision problems. Healthy vision is a significant part of healthy overall development, so be sure not to skip your baby’s eye exams! 

A Visit to the Emergency Room or Your Optometrist?

Eye Care Emergencies To Take Directly to the Optometry Office ASAP

When a health crisis occurs, it is common to consider a visit to the nearest hospital emergency room for care. However, when the emergency is related to your eyes, consider a trip to your optometrist’s office as the first stop.

Recent research has shown that treating eye emergencies at eye doctors’ offices can potentially divert more than 1 million patients away from ERs each year. While doing so eases the burden on hospitals and their staff and helps them conserve resources, it also ensures that you get the most prompt treatment and care.

New or existing patient? We are here to help! Here are some of the several circumstances where you can keep eye emergencies out of hospital emergency rooms.

Foreign Body Removal

With fallen leaves blowing in the wind and chopped wood burning in backyard bonfire pits, autumn carries with it several instances that a foreign body can end up embedded in an eye.

The sharp pain, watery eyes and frightening blurred vision from a foreign body can coax a run to the bathroom for a quick self-removal attempt or an anxious run to the nearest emergency room. Try and keep this in mind: the eye is a fragile organ. Any self-pursuits of removal or a long wait in an ER can lead to an unfavorable outcome.

Take a deep breath, give us a quick call, and let our team know you are on your way so we can prepare to address your needs right upon your arrival!

Lost/Broken Contacts

After wearing contacts for years, they no longer feel like foreign objects until… they tear or get lost in the eyelid. Chances are you did not realize the contact was torn until it was in your eye. Torn lenses are less likely to stay centered and the jagged edge can scratch the front surface of your eye.

During allergy seasons, your eyes can get extremely itchy. Rubbing your eye can cause contacts to fold, dislodge from the cornea and get stuck under your upper eyelid.

Don’t panic! You can remove ripped contact lenses following your usual process. Even lost, folded lenses can often be found by adding contact lens solution to your eye, closing your eye, and massaging your eyelid until the lens repositions itself.

If these attempts fail or are successful but followed by discomfort, call or visit your eye doctor for assistance.

Chemical Flushing

Some chemicals are more toxic than others, but all chemicals should be considered dangerous if they encounter your eye. Certain chemicals can cause damage to the cornea and lead to vision loss.

Cleaning your bathroom mirrors, providing maintenance to your vehicle, or starting a manicure with nail polish remover? These are common situations where an acid can accidentally make its way into your eye, causing them to sting and burn.

If you are wearing contacts, remove them immediately. Preferably flush your eyes with saline if you have it on hand or with room temperature water. Seek urgent medical care from your trusted O.D.

Red & Burning Eyes

While chemical exposure can lead to red and burning eyes, this eye experience can be linked to several other serious issues. Bacteria, mites, allergens, skin diseases and autoimmune diseases can lead to similar reactions. You may not know you have any of these until you are examined by an optometrist.

Don’t try to give red and burning eyes time to fall by the wayside. Proper diagnosis by your O.D. is essential to determine the best treatment.

Discharge From the Eye

Pink eye is a misguided diagnosis. It is often confused with other conjunctivitis conditions. If taken directly to an emergency room, patients are usually prescribed a simple antibiotic to cure what is easily assumed based on the symptoms.

Correct diagnosis of red eyes accompanied by discharge are best evaluated by an eye doctor as quickly as possible since some of the causes can be sight-threatening.

Flashes and Floaters

You may consider floating spots and flashing lights a symptom of constantly staring at a computer screen or having a painful migraine. While these reasons can be valid, flashes and floaters must be addressed quickly as they could be an indication of a retinal defect such as retinal detachment, or a stroke. These can cause permanent vision loss if left untreated.

Step away from the computer screen, give us a call and explain what is obstructing your vision. This will help us determine if an immediate evaluation by one of our trusted vision-care specialists should be the next move on your to-do list.

Sudden Vision Changes

Sitting in the car and notice you can’t see out of one eye? Or does your vision seem much worse than it was yesterday while you’re reading your newest novel? These sudden vision changes can be ominous signs. The most likely reasons are macular degeneration, elevated eye pressure, or optic nerve disease.

If you or a loved one experiences sudden vision changes, call our Bloomington office at 309-827-8434. A prompt diagnosis by your optometrist is essential to restore vision to normal.

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These are just some examples of situations that are best treated by your trusted O.D. rather than an ER physician. Take anything involving your eye health into consideration and do not hesitate to contact us for prompt and precise eye care.