Are you pregnant and noticing changes in your vision? Are you concerned that these changes could mean something serious?
The fact is, pregnancy can cause changes in your eyes — but not all eye problems are a result of pregnancy.
It’s important to learn the kinds of eyesight changes pregnancy can provoke, so you better understand what could be causing your eyesight issues.
We’ve studied the latest research so we can answer all your questions about eye changes during pregnancy. In this guide, we’ll talk about the changes your eyes might experience, what changes are cause for alarm, and when you should schedule an eye exam.
- Pregnancy can cause temporary vision changes, with 15% of pregnant women experiencing some eye issues.
- Common vision changes include dry eyes, blurred vision, and corneal edema, which typically resolves after pregnancy.
- Some vision changes can signal more serious health concerns, like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or pregnancy-induced hypertension.
- Consult your optometrist and doctor if you have any concerns or experience significant vision changes during pregnancy.
Are Pregnancy-Related Vision Problems Normal?
You may be surprised to learn that about 15% of pregnant women will experience changes in vision as a result of their pregnancy. However, while these occurrences are normal, they can also feel strange.
We all know that when a woman is pregnant, her body undergoes many changes as it grows and prepares for a new life. Some changes, such as increased hormone levels and increased fluid retention, can affect the eyes and eyesight.
For example, water retention can cause the curvature of your cornea to increase in thickness, affecting how your contacts fit your eyes. Extra water retention can also cause pressure to build up in the eyes — pressure that can potentially lead to discomfort.
These are only two examples of many eye changes pregnancy can cause, but there are plenty more.
Vision Changes Caused By Pregnancy
The type of vision changes pregnant women may experience will vary. After all, every woman’s body is unique, as is her medical history. It’s important to figure out which changes may just be a strange occurrence and which are symptoms pointing to more significant issues.
These are some of the vision or physical eye changes you may experience during pregnancy:
1. Dry Eyes
Some women notice their eyes are much drier during pregnancy. This is usually caused by a surge in hormones and can easily be solved by using eyedrops that are safe for use during pregnancy or nursing. Eye drops will help lubricate your eyes and provide immediate relief (1).
Talk to your optometrist, doctor, or pharmacist for advice on which eye drops are safest for pregnancy.
2. Blurred Vision
Many pregnant women experience blurred vision as water retention affects their eyes and leads to distorted images. These changes will usually disappear after delivery or when the mother stops breastfeeding.
Blurred vision during pregnancy can also be a sign of something more serious, like high blood pressure or gestational diabetes (2). It’s best to call your doctor if you start experiencing blurred vision. If you experience double vision, flashes, or spots, call your doctor right away.
Editor's Note:Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN
3. Corneal Edema
If you notice your eyes becoming more sensitive, dry, or uncomfortable while wearing contacts, you may have corneal edema. This issue usually presents itself in the third trimester and disappears shortly after birth.
Take care of it easily by swapping contacts for glasses and using pregnancy-friendly eye drops.
4. Central Serous Chorioretinopathy
This issue is caused by fluid leaking under the retina, resulting in distorted vision. While it’s hard to self-diagnose, if you experience distorted vision, contact your optometrist.
5. Refractive Changes
When you’re pregnant, your hormones can cause you to need higher-strength lenses or glasses. These changes are usually temporary, so consult with your doctor about whether your prescription needs to be changed.
Most optometrists won’t recommend changing your prescription during pregnancy since eye changes can be temporary. Your optometrist can tell you when the optimal time is to get your eyes checked.
Editor's Note:Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN
6. Puffy Eyelids
Hormones may cause your eyelids to become puffy — is there anything they can’t do? Puffy eyelids may affect your peripheral vision. A way to combat this effect is to drink plenty of water and lower your sodium intake because water retention is the likely culprit.
Pregnant women may experience migraines, with sensitivity to light being a big sign you’ve gotyou’veAdditionally, changes in your eyesight can be the culprit. If you experience intense migraines, talk to your doctor. They may be able to help determine treatment.
Should You Postpone An Eye Exam?
Many optometrists hesitate to perform laser eye surgery or prescribe new glasses for pregnant women because of the temporary changes their eyes experience. However, this doesn’t mean you should avoid an eye exam for the next nine months!
You can still have your optometrist check the health of your eyes. It’s for you to have them dilated. If you have any questions or concerns, an exam is a great time to voice them to a professional.
Ultimately, your optometrist wants the best for your sight and will be able to offer you advice, solutions, and information.
When Are Vision Changes Concerning?
Some vision changes during pregnancy can be concerning because they’rethey’rems of other, more serious issues. For example, high blood pressure and preeclampsia are almost always associated with changes in vision.
The vision symptoms usually associated with more serious conditions include:
- Blurred vision.
- Inability to focus your eyes.
- Double vision.
- Blind spots.
- Seeing flashes of light.
- Light sensitivity.
You should also reach out to your doctor if you experience swelling or puffiness around your eyes accompanied by any of the above symptoms. These are symptoms often associated with preeclampsia.
Vision Changes As Health Warnings
As we mentioned above, some vision changes can be benign.
However, changes in eyesight can be symptoms of more serious health concerns.
Preeclampsia is a complication of pregnancy that can have serious — or even fatal — effects on mother and baby. Along with high blood pressure, other symptoms typically include temporary loss of vision, light sensitivity, blurry vision, and seeing auras.
If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor or head to the ER as quickly as possible (source).
2. Gestational Diabetes
Developing blurred vision is also a possible symptom of gestational diabetes — when a pregnant woman experiences temporarily high blood sugar. This type of diabetes lasts until delivery and must be closely monitored by a doctor.
Having this condition puts you at greater risk for gestational diabetes in your next pregnancy and for type 2 diabetes in the future.
3. Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension
If you have blurred vision or are seeing spots, your blood pressure could be high. Many women experience this during pregnancy. The earlier you seek treatment, the higher the chances of minimizing pregnancy complications.
4. Different Trimesters, Different Vision Issues
There’s a chance the trimester you’re in can help indicate what’s causing any issues you may be experiencing. It’s common to notice what changes as early as the first trimester because you are trying to become accustomed to the hormonal changes.
Eye changes during the second trimester can be concerning because preeclampsia is usually diagnosed after the 20-week mark. If you notice your eyes beginning to change during this trimester, discuss them with your doctor. It’s possible you could catch an underlying issue before it begins to worsen. Most women notice vision changes in the third trimester when their body begins to retain water significantly.
Soothing Pregnancy Vision Changes
You don’t have complete control over your eyes when you’re pregnant, but there are things you can do to help minimize the changes. Remyou’re most vision changes will correct themselves once you deliver your baby.
These are some things you can do to ease vision changes during pregnancy:
- Use eyedrops: Try to keep your eyes as lubricated as possible by using eyedrops — a lifesaver when it comes to discomfort. Be sure to use eye drops that are safe for pregnant women, and talk to your doctor about any concerns.
- Rest your eyes: A little rest can go a long way. If you’re watching TV, close your eyes during commercials. Make sure you read with a light because you can strain your eyes. Getting a little extra sleep each night can help too.
- Hold off on a prescription: Unless your vision changes are affecting daily life, don’t get a new prescription — chances are any changes are temporary. Some women choose to get reading glasses from a drug store to help with farsightedness.
- Don’t over-correct: It’s possible an eye doctor will correct your vision too much, so make sure you tell your Optometrist you’re pregnant during your appointment. Once you become accustomed to a stronger lens, your eyes require that same strength of lens in the future. Also, steer away from corrective eye surgeries during pregnancy. They may end up being a permanent fix to a temporary problem.
Vision Changes and Headaches
Changes in your vision may cause a direct increase in the number of headaches you have. If you’re experiencing frequent headaches and think changing vision is part of the cause, you should go to your optometrist — you may need a prescription change.
However, changes in vision during pregnancy typically should not cause you to experience frequent headaches. It’s important you take any eye changes associated with headaches very seriously, and it’s medical attention if they get worse.
Seeing It All Clearly
Pregnancy can cause many changes within your body, and sometimes that includes your eyes. The changes typically aren’t severe and won’t need correcting, as they will disappear after delivery; some vision changes can be symptoms of more serious issues such as preeclampsia or high blood pressure. If you experience drastic changes in vision, contact your doctor — better to be safe than sorry! This is especially true if symptoms last longer than a week.