Why does pregnancy affect your vision?

August 17, 2014

There are several ways pregnancy can change your vision. The first, is a disrutpion in the eye's baseline tearing mechanism, which results in dry eye syndrome.  For many women, this may mean increased contact lens intolerance, burning, or ocular foreign body sensation.  Secondly, pregnant women usually experience some degree of systemic water retention and this, in turn, affects the cornea.  Because the cornea is a large refractive surface (it is a powerful lens that focuses images into the eye), the swelling brings about a change in the corneal countour and therefore in its refractive power  (i.e. the lens changes power). As a result, images can become more blurred when viewed with pre-pregnancy prescription glasses or contacts. Finally, in a very small fraction of patients with pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, long term visual changes can develop.  In pre-eclampsia, systemic blood pressure rises above the normal range for pregnancy, and in eclampsia, end-organ damage (eyes, liver, etc.) can result.  If the end-organ happens to be the eye/s, small strokes or infarcts may cause permanent visual changes.  Because of this, patients with pre-eclampsia and eclampsia should be monitored carefully and evaluated for induction or c-section by their obstetrician.  

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