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Pregnancy alters your eyesight too

Wednesday, 1 November 2006 - 8:10pm IST

Pregnancy brings an increase in hormones that may cause changes in vision. Experts suggest routine eye check up each trimester.

Vandana Jain

Pregnant women often look more beautiful simply because they are in a happy and relaxed frame of mind. The nine months are however a time of great physical and mental change. The best way to look beautiful and glowing through pregnancy is to treat it as a normal activity but maintain a little extra care and awareness and to adjust to these changes and deal with them successfully.

While most women know that their hands and feet can swell, they don't realise their eyes can swell as well. Pregnancy brings an increase in hormones that may cause changes in vision. In most cases, these are temporary eye conditions that will return to normal after delivery. As an expectant mother, one should be aware of vision changes during pregnancy and know what symptoms indicate a serious problem.

The power of your glasses can change during and after pregnancy, just like the size of your feet.

Contact lens intolerance may occur as a result of a change in corneal curvature, increased corneal thickness/edema, or change in the tear film. In any case, it is recommended that one should wait several weeks postpartum before prescribing a new refraction.

Contact lenses, contact lens solutions and enzymatic cleaners are safe to use during pregnancy. To reduce the irritation caused by a combination of dry eyes and contact lenses, try cleaning contact lenses with an enzymatic cleaner more often. Additionally, lubricating or re-wetting eye drops can be used. Puffiness and pigmentation around the eyes are common. Don't skimp on your water intake and stick to a moderate diet, low in sodium and caffeine. These healthy habits can help limit water retention and boost overall comfort.

For the image-conscious women of today — caution against LASIK. The reason for caution in pregnancy is because the refraction may be different due to hormonal changes. Also, there is the rare possibility that the response to the surgery might not be usual. This holds true while nursing too.

Vision problems during pregnancy sometimes may be a sign of other health problems. Blurred vision or seeing spots may indicate gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced hypertension. Eclampsia and pre-eclampsia, caused by extremely high blood pressure, can cause eye hemorrhages and retinal detachment. Those diabetic before pregnancy and those who develop gestational diabetes need to watch their vision closely. Blurred vision in such cases may indicate elevated blood sugar levels.

Experts recommend routine examinations by an eye doctor each trimester. Early treatment is key to the health of the mother and baby.

Jain is an ophthalmologist practising at Adtiya Jyot Eye Hospital

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