Pregnancy and how it may affect your eyes

Published 08 Apr 2022

Along with the many changes that are evident with pregnancy (hello baby bump, swollen ankles and indigestion), the impact on the eyes is often overlooked.

GMHBA Eye Care Optometrist Georgia Witham’s expertise includes an understanding of how our ocular health is impacted and influenced by our different contexts, such as when you’re expecting a new member of the family. Georgia completed a Bachelor of Science at University of Melbourne in 2014, before going on to complete a Bachelor of Vision Science and Master of Optometry at Deakin University in 2017. Here, Georgia explains how pregnancy may affect your eyes.

The ocular changes caused by pregnancy are usually only short term and tend not to pose a large risk to long-term vision. Some of the most common ocular complications during pregnancy include:

Eyelids – you may experience hyperpigmentation of skin exposed to the sun during pregnancy, including the eyelids. This condition is self-limiting and will often resolve post-partum.

Cornea – It has been widely researched that during pregnancy, the cornea may increase in thickness, resulting in changes to spectacle prescription. It is often suggested that patients wait until they are several weeks post-partum before updating their spectacle or contact lens prescription. Some studies have found that the prescription change caused during pregnancy, can often return to pre-pregnancy levels.

Intraocular pressure – Ocular pressure may decrease during pregnancy by 10-15 percent. This is most often noted during the second half of pregnancy and typically returns to pre-pregnancy levels at two months post-partum.

Contact lens intolerance – Studies have shown contact lens intolerance reported in 25-30 percent of pregnancies. This is thought to be due to a possible decrease in the production of tears, causing the eyes to become dry and irritable.

Post-LASIK eye surgery complication – It is recommended that refractive laser surgery be performed no earlier than three to six months following pregnancy. This is because pregnancy can affect the cornea, the same structure that is manipulated during refractive surgery.

Retinopathy – Pregnancy has been a well-documented risk factor of a retinal condition causing the back layers of the eye to split apart. It is typically spontaneous and self-limiting, however can become chronic. It is most likely to occur in the third trimester and usually resolves by 4-8 weeks post-partum.

Pregnancy can have a wide range of effects on the eye. Luckily, most of these changes are benign. If you are at all concerned about your vision, or have noticed any ocular change, it is recommended to make an appointment with one of our GMHBA Eye Care optometrists who are here to help.