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If you’re pregnant – especially with your first baby – you can expect a lot of things, including advice from friends, relatives, doctors, and even strangers on the street. They’ll tell you how to predict the sex of the baby, what to eat, which exercises you should be doing or not doing, etc. But they can’t warn you about everything, and most people don’t know to warn you that pregnancy can affect your eyes and your vision temporarily.

When making plans for the next nine months, you’ve certainly thought of appointments with your OB-GYN and general practitioner, but you may also want to make an appointment with your eye doctor. Your ophthalmologist or optometrist can give you an idea of the changes to expect during your pregnancy — due to fluid retention, changing hormone levels, circulation, and metabolic changes — and can help you treat any uncomfortable symptoms you may already be experiencing.

Some vision changes are normal and can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription eye drops and a visit to the eye doctor. Other changes may be indicative of a problem with your pregnancy or your general health, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your vision during your pregnancy (no pun intended).

DRY EYES AND BLURRY VISION

Pregnant women very often experience dry eyes and blurred vision. Dry eyes due to pregnancy can be treated with lubricating eye drops. You’ll want to check with your eye doctor before using any over-the-counter eye drops though, as some contain ingredients that could be harmful to your baby. Because pregnancy-related dry eye makes wearing contacts uncomfortable, a lot of women stick with eyeglasses until this symptom subsides.

If you’re experiencing blurry vision, it’s probably due to fluid retention temporarily changing the shape and thickness of your corneas. If the change in your vision’s clarity is only minor, try drinking more water and resting your eyes whenever your vision blurs. If it is significant, make an appointment with your eye doctor.

SIGNS OF PREECLAMPSIA OR GESTATIONAL DIABETES

Significantly blurred or distorted vision may be a sign of preeclampsia, which is a potentially serious and life-threatening condition. While preeclampsia only affects between five and eight percent of pregnancies, you do not want to ignore potential symptoms.

If you experience blurred or distorted vision in combination with seeing auras around objects or flashes of light, especially if you’re showing signs of high blood pressure, call your doctor immediately. If your doctor cannot see you, don’t hesitate to go to the emergency room.

In some cases, blurred vision could be a sign of gestational diabetes. Your doctor can perform tests and screenings to determine your blood sugar levels, pancreas and liver function, and detect other potential risks to you and your baby, but you have to communicate everything that’s going on with your body. A change in your vision during pregnancy could be normal, or it could be an early warning sign of something serious.

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