Should I Worry About Blurred Vision During Pregnancy?

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Nausea, swollen feet, weight gain, backaches — these are some of the irritating, but expected symptoms of pregnancy. After all, pregnancy affects your entire body, and sometimes in very uncomfortable ways. But what you might not be prepared for is how pregnancy affects your vision.

Many women find that they experience bouts of blurry vision during pregnancy. You may also find that your eyes become dryer and itchier during pregnancy, and even that your glasses or contact lens prescription temporarily changes.

The good news is that in most instances, these changes are completely normal.

Blurred vision during pregnancy be understandably worrisome at first, but it is a frequent occurrence among pregnant women and is usually nothing to worry about.

Nonetheless, because blurry vision may be a symptom of a more serious pregnancy complication like preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, it is still important to discuss any new visual symptoms you experience with your healthcare provider.

How Common is Blurred Vision During Pregnancy?

According to research published in Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, vision changes occur in about 15% of pregnancies and are harmless for the most part. These changes can happen at any point during your pregnancy, and blurred vision specifically can occur as a standalone symptom, or as part of other symptoms, such as morning sickness or migraines.

What to Know About Blurred Vision During Pregnancy

  • Visual changes like blurred vision occur frequently during early pregnancy, as your body is flooded with hormones and is adapting to the changes of pregnancy.
  • Blurry vision may be accompanied by morning sickness symptoms, like nausea, dizziness, and vomiting.
  • Blurry vision may occur as a result of headaches or migraines, which increase for some women during pregnancy.
  • Other bouts of blurred vision can occur during the middle or end of pregnancy, usually caused by hormonal shifts and fluid retention.
  • Up to 14% of pregnant women who wear prescription glasses or contact lenses will see a change in their prescription. Your prescription will likely go back to normal after your baby is born.
  • Almost all vision changes caused by pregnancy resolve soon after your baby is born. If you continue to have blurred vision after birth, you should promptly speak to your healthcare provider.

What Are The Causes?

Like most uncomfortable pregnancy-related symptoms, you can blame visual changes on those pesky hormones and other bodily changes like pregnancy edema.

Fluid Build-up

Just as you experience swollen hands and feet during pregnancy, the tissue around your eyes may swell as a result of water retention or edema. As the Academy of American Ophthalmology explains it, “progesterone-mediated fluid shifts” during pregnancy may cause vision changes, including blurred vision.

Thickening of Your Cornea

According to a 2015 study published in The Turkish Journal of Ophthalmology, corneal edema may cause thickening of the cornea during late pregnancy, which can make your eyes feel more sensitive and may produce visual disturbances like blurred vision. These changes also sometimes make wearing contact lenses less tolerable.

Increased Eye Dryness

Your tear production slows during pregnancy, which may leave you with dry eyes, itchiness, and irritation. This may also make wearing contact lenses less comfortable and can create a general feeling of eye discomfort.

Changes in Your Field of Vision

Your pituitary gland grows during pregnancy, which can result in changes to your field of vision. Many women experience a decrease in their peripheral vision or a reduced field of vision during pregnancy.

Treatments for Blurred Vision

Don’t stress too much: you will be seeing everything crystal clear before you know it … although you may have to wait to give birth before these vision changes end.

Most harmless cases of blurred vision during pregnancy diminish during the postpartum period, although it may take a few weeks for your eyes to adjust.

Try Eye Drops

Keeping your eyes lubricated can help with the itchiness and visual disturbances. Ask your healthcare provider what eye drops are safe to use during pregnancy

Rest Those Eyes

Your whole body needs extra rest during pregnancy, your eyes included. If you don’t have time for extra naps, try to take some time to close your eyes or rest in a dark room if you are finding that your vision is strained or that your eyes are irritated.

Don’t Be Too Quick to Change Your Eye Glass Prescription

Even if your prescription changes during pregnancy, it will not be permanent. Experts say to wait until at least several months postpartum to consider changing your eyeglass prescription. Discuss any concerns you may have about your prescription with your optometrist.

Possible Complications

In some cases, blurred vision — especially when accompanied by other concerning symptoms —may indicate a serious complication of pregnancy. That is why you should always discuss any new pregnancy symptoms with your healthcare provider.

The two most common pregnancy complications that may include blurred vision as a symptom are preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.

Preeclampsia

  • Preeclampsia a serious condition that causes increased blood pressure and protein in the urine.
  • If untreated, preeclampsia can be life-threatening for both mother and child.
  • Visual symptoms include changes in vision, blurred vision, vision loss, and light sensitivity.
  • Other related symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and weight gain/swelling.
  • HELLP is a variant of preeclampsia which also can produce blurred vision symptoms.

Gestational Diabetes

  • Gestational diabetes is a complication of pregnancy that results in high blood sugar levels and usually occurs in mid to late pregnancy.
  • When your blood sugars are out of balance, you may experience visual symptoms like blurred vision.
  • Your blurred vision may also be accompanied by dizziness, faintness, loss of concentration, or headaches.
  • If you have gestational diabetes, blurred vision may be a sign that your blood sugar is not being controlled properly, and you should discuss this with your healthcare provider so that the problem can be remedied.

Other Vision Changes During Pregnancy

Blurred vision is not the only visual change that can occur during pregnancy. Other normal, but bothersome visual symptoms may include:

  • An increase in floaters or dark spots (scotomata) in your vision
  • An increase in pigmentation around the eyes (pregnancy mask or melasma)
  • Eye dryness, irritation, itchiness, or discomfort
  • Papilledema, or optic disc swelling may occur more frequently in pregnancy
  • Optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve) which can cause temporary vision loss, may occur because of a reduction in immune capacity during pregnancy

Any of these changes should be discussed with your healthcare provider, who may refer you to an optometrist or ophthalmologist for further investigation.

A Word From Verywell

Experiencing a bout of blurred vision during pregnancy can be scary and disconcerting. It may be comforting to know that you are not alone. So many pregnant women experience a bout of blurred vision at some point during pregnancy.

All that being said, it is vital that you bring up any symptoms of blurred vision with your medical provider, as there is a chance that what you are experiencing points to a more serious problem. However, as frightening as your experience may be, most instances of blurred vision are normal and resolve soon after your baby is born.

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Article Sources

  • Mackensen F. Ocular Changes During Pregnancy. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International. 2014; 111(33-34): 567–576. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2014.0567.

  • Treating Visual Loss During Pregnancy. American Academy of Ophthalmology website. https://www.aao.org/eyenet/article/treating-visual-loss-during-pregnancy. Updated October 2013.

  • Yenerel NM. Pregnancy and the Eye. The Turkish Journal of Ophthalmology. 2015 Oct; 45(5): 213–219. doi: 10.4274/tjo.43815.