Watch Out for Eye Trouble During Pregnancy

Hormone changes and migraines can arise, affecting vision, experts say

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SUNDAY, April 8, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Vision problems can occur during pregnancy, and women should talk to their doctor if they do notice any vision changes, say experts at Prevent Blindness America.

April is Women's Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month, according to the volunteer eye health and safety organization.

Discomfort with contact lenses, refractive changes, dry eyes, puffy eyelids that obscure side vision and sensitivity to light due to migraines are among vision changes that may occur during pregnancy. Some vision changes, such as blurred vision and seeing spots, may indicate serious problems.

"Women who have any pre-existing conditions, like glaucoma, high blood pressure or diabetes, must let their eye doctor know that they are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, so the doctor can monitor closely for any changes in vision," Daniel D. Garrett, senior vice president of Prevent Blindness America, said in a prepared statement.

Problems that pregnant women may experience include:

  • Refractive changes. During pregnancy, changes in hormone levels may affect the strength a women needs in her contact lenses or eyeglasses. This slight change is usually no cause for concern. Women should talk to their eye doctor about it.
  • Dry eyes. This problem is usually temporary and goes away after delivery. Lubricating or rewetting eye drops are safe to use during pregnancy or while nursing.
  • Migraines. These are caused by hormonal changes and are common among pregnant women. In some cases, migraine headaches can make eyes feel more sensitive to light. Talk to your doctor before you take any migraine headache medications.
  • Diabetes. Pregnant women are at increased risk for developing diabetes. Blurred vision may be an indication of elevated blood sugar levels. All women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant and have been diagnosed with diabetes should get a full, dilated eye exam.
  • High blood pressure. Blurry vision and seeing spots may be a sign of high blood pressure during pregnancy. Very high blood pressure can cause retinal detachment.

More information

The Merle West Medical Center in Oregon has more about eye problems during pregnancy.

SOURCE: Prevent Blindness America, news release, March 27, 2007


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