Have hormones affected your vision? From birth control use to pregnancy and menopause, a woman goes through an array of hormonal changes through her lifetime. If you are not sure what these changes have to do with your eyes, take a look at how hormones can impact vision.
Birth Control Vision Changes
Some, but not all, women may experience blurry or worsening vision after starting hormonal birth control. Non-hormonal contraception (such as a diaphragm or copper IUD) will not cause eye changes.
Birth control-related vision changes typically have one of two primary causes. The estrogen (hormone) in your birth control can cause eye inflammation. This can interfere with the eye's oil-producing glands, resulting in dryness and blurred vision.
Estrogen can also cause corneal thickening. Corneal changes cause light to refract differently in the eye, blurring vision or making seeing correctly harder.
If you have a sudden vision change after starting hormonal birth control, contact your medical provider and eye doctor immediately. Even though these minor estrogen-related changes are the likely culprit, hormone-related hypertension (high blood pressure) is also a possibility. Vision changes caused by a sudden blood pressure increase may signal an emergency medical situation.
Pregnancy Vision Changes
Morning sickness, swollen feet, and a bulging baby bump are not the only body changes that happen with pregnancy. The hormonal ups and downs during the three trimesters can also cause eye and vision issues.
Dry eye syndrome is a common hormone-induced pregnancy symptom that many women must contend with. While dry eye can happen any time during pregnancy, this is most likely (or most likely to worsen) during the hormonal shift at the end of your first trimester.
Like with hormonal birth control, the eye's oil glands are often the cause of pregnancy-related eye issues. The hormones produced during pregnancy can cause changes in the oil glands, creating an unstable tear film that may lead to excessive drying.
Untreated dry eyes can result in temporary blurriness. If you experience this, talk to your eye-care professional about using artificial tears or another type of treatment to ease discomfort and restore your vision.
Again, like with birth control, much more serious medical conditions can also cause vision changes during pregnancy. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy condition that causes hypertension and severe swelling. While some women have no noticeable symptoms of this type of blood pressure increase, others experience headaches and vision changes.
If you are pregnant and have a vision change, contact a medical professional immediately.
Menopause Vision Changes
Estrogen and progesterone hormonal levels typically drop during and after menopause. Along with causing hot flashes and other well-known symptoms, this hormonal change can also usher in a period of dry eyes.
Menopause-related dry eyes are often a two-fold problem. Most people, both men and women, experience some level of decreased tear production as they age. That makes the menopausal age a time when any adult might have to deal with dry eyes.
Beyond the normal drop in tear production that happens with age, estrogen and androgen hormone changes can affect the eyes — making them feel dry and itchy. Even though previous research into post-menopausal dry eye pointed at estrogen as the only influence, some new evidence exists suggesting that decreasing levels of androgens (sex hormones) may also interfere with tear production.
Treating menopausal or post-menopausal dry eyes typically includes using artificial tears or medications that stimulate tear production, reduce eyelid swelling, or decrease corneal inflammation — depending on the cause of the dry eye.
Do you have vision changes due to hormones? Contact Family Eye Care for more information. We look forward to helping with your vision care needs.