Many expectant mothers already know that pregnancy comes with various physiological changes, which typically include nausea, discomfort, body pain, and weight gain. However, something not as popularly discussed is how pregnancy can also affect your vision and overall eye health.
As covered in a previous post, new mothers can experience vision changes, as certain pregnancy stages can be associated with decreased intraocular pressure, alterations in the cornea, and retinal vascular changes.
As a result, pregnant women may experience blurry vision, dry eyes, light sensitivity, and refractive changes. While these may be resolved and their vision returns to normal shortly into postpartum, they must still deal with these changes properly and healthily.
Besides hydration and a nutrient-rich diet, they can adjust their eyewear to ensure clear vision — here are a few ways to do so.
Consider blue-light-blocking glasses
As previously mentioned, pregnancy can heighten your sensitivity to light, including blue light, whose short wavelength can impact visual function and disrupt sleep. Blue light is commonly emitted by digital devices, and pregnant women can prevent its adverse health effects by reducing screen time.
However, research published in BMC Public Health also shows that wearing blue-light-blocking glasses can help pregnant women improve their circadian rhythm and melatonin levels for better sleep. Whether or not you have refractive errors, most optical retailers offer eyeglasses with blue-light-filtering lenses to reduce photosensitivity and blue-light exposure.
Wear sunglasses with UV protection
Besides blue light from digital screens, pregnant women must also be careful of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. While UV rays can benefit them and their children by stimulating vitamin D production, prolonged exposure can increase the risk of skin cancer and eye conditions like cataracts.
When outdoors, pregnant women should wear sunglasses that can filter 100% of UVA & UVB light for maximum protection. Top eyewear brand Oakley offers sunglasses in oversized frame styles like Holbrook XL to adequately cover the eyes, as well as polarized lens options so your vision remains clear despite wearing shades.
Opt for glasses over contact lenses
For pregnant women with preexisting eye conditions like refractive errors, their choice of vision corrective tools also matters. Although contact lenses are safe to wear while pregnant, it’s recommended to opt for eyeglasses since tear production can slow down during pregnancy due to hormonal changes.
This increased dryness can make it uncomfortable to wear contact lenses, especially for prolonged periods. In case putting on contacts remains crucial for your vision and lifestyle needs, just remember to ask your eye doctor about pregnancy-safe eye drops you can use to lubricate your eyes.
Don’t change your prescription
Going to the optometrist for an eye exam while pregnant is perfectly safe and healthy. For one, you can get your eyes checked to detect visual problems like dry eyes and corneal changes, as well as consult with your doctor about possible remedies.
However, suppose you currently have refractive errors like myopia and pregnancy changes your visual acuity. In that case, Dr. Michael P. Nageotte advises against changing your prescription since your eyes will likely return to their original grade soon after delivery.
Overall, vision changes are normal during and shortly after pregnancy. By following the tips listed above, you can better prepare for these changes and maintain proper eye care throughout this new chapter in your life. For more resources on pregnancy and childbirth, check out the other articles on this blog.