When to Worry About Blurred Vision During Pregnancy

Pregnant woman with closed eyes touching her forehead while sitting up in bed
baona / Getty Images

Nausea, swollen feet, weight gain, backaches—these are some of the irritating but expected pregnancy-related discomforts. What you might not be prepared for is how pregnancy may affect your vision. Though not as well known as other pregnancy symptoms, many pregnant women develop changes in vision and other eye-related side effects while expecting.

Overview

It's common to 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 and there are ways to alleviate these symptoms. For the most part, these changes will resolve on their own.

Blurred vision during pregnancy is 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 an indicator of a more serious pregnancy complication, like preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, it is important to discuss any new vision-related symptoms you experience with your healthcare provider.

Frequency of Blurred Vision in 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. Blurred vision can occur as a standalone symptom or as part of other symptoms, such as morning sickness or migraines.

Other key symptoms of pregnancy-related eye health changes include:

  • Vision changes like blurred vision occur frequently during early pregnancy, as your body is flooded with hormones, fluid levels increase, and the body adapts 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.

Causes of Vision Changes

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

Fluid Build-up

Just as you can experience swollen hands and feet during pregnancy, the tissue around your eyes may swell as a result of water retention or edema. According to the Academy of American Ophthalmology, “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 (swelling of the cornea) 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 increased dryness may also make wearing contact lenses less comfortable and can create a general feeling of eye discomfort.

Dizziness

Temporary bouts of blurred vision may be a by-product of dizziness that occurs from rapid movements and changes in position, such as getting up from a seated or reclining position.

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 Options

Most likely, your vision, eye dryness, or other eye health concerns will return to their pre-pregnancy status once you give birth. In the meantime, your best option is likely to opt for treatments that help alleviate discomfort while you wait out these changes.

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.

However, If your vision changes are interfering with your ability to go about your daily life, such as impacting driving and/or reading, consult your doctor and/or an ophthalmologist or optometrist to help you see clearly again.

Treatment options that may improve some of the more common pregnancy eye health symptoms include the following.

Eye Drops

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

Resting Your 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 simply close your eyes or rest in a dark room if you are finding that your vision is strained or that your eyes are irritated. Getting enough sleep at night can also help.

Taking Out Your Contacts

Contact lenses can prove more irritating to your eyes, especially if you are experiencing dry eyes, during pregnancy. If you wear contact lenses, try taking them out and switching to glasses for all or part of the day can provide some relief.

Not Changing Your Prescription

Even if your prescription changes during pregnancy, it will likely not be permanent and the change will likely be small. Experts say to wait until at least several months postpartum to consider changing your eyeglass prescription as in many cases it will revert back after giving birth.

Discuss any concerns you may have about your prescription with your eye doctor.

Possible Complications

In some cases, blurred vision—especially when accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as high blood pressure—may indicate a serious complication of pregnancy. That is why it's imperative to 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 usually occurs after week 32 but can arise as early as week 20. It's estimated that around 2% to 8% of pregnancies are affected by this condition. Treatments may result in bed rest, blood pressure medicine, or induction of labor.

Preeclampsia is 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. HELLP syndrome is a variant of preeclampsia that also can produce blurred vision symptoms.

Visual symptoms include changes in vision, blurred vision, vision loss, and light sensitivity. Other related symptoms include throbbing headaches, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, sudden swelling of the face, hands and/or feet, and weight gain.

Gestational Diabetes

Around 14% of pregnant women may get gestational diabetes. Rates are increasing in tandem with obesity rates. Risk factors include above-average weight and genetic factors. Women who have this condition once tend to get it again in subsequent pregnancies.

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. With gestational diabetes, 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. If so, 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 in the skin around the eyes (pregnancy mask or melasma)
  • Eye dryness, irritation, itchiness, or discomfort
  • Papilledema or optic disc swelling
  • 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 blurred vision during pregnancy can be scary and disconcerting. It may be comforting to know that you are not alone. Luckily, pregnancy-related vision changes usually go away on their own.

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

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. MedlinePlus. Common symptoms during pregnancy. Updated September 25, 2018.

  2. Mackensen F. Ocular changes during pregnancy. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International. 2014;111(33-34): 567–576. doi:10.3238/arztebl.2014.0567

  3. American Optometric Association. Pregnancy and vision: What mothers need to know.

  4. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Treating visual loss during pregnancy. Updated October 2013.

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

  6. World Health Organization. WHO recommendations for prevention and treatment of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. Published 2011.

  7. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Gestational diabetes. Reviewed April 28, 2020.