Your eyes do not deceive you: Many women discover that they have blurry vision during pregnancy. No need to panic, though. Your vision will likely return to normal in the blink of an eye. Blurry vision during pregnancy is more common than you think, and sometimes sticks around until after you deliver.
What causes blurry vision during pregnancy?
Anyone who’s been pregnant knows how hormones can wreak havoc on the body. You can blame hormones for shifting moods, and pregnancy hormones also trigger morning sickness and food aversions. So, it probably comes as no surprise that blurry vision during pregnancy has a lot to do with changing hormones too. Including:
- Reduced tear production. Pregnancy hormones decrease tear production (Funny, they do not decrease the tears from crying!), which can lead to eye dryness, irritation, and discomfort.
- Fluid. Fluid accumulates in your eyes (as well as other parts of the body). This fluid retention can increase pressure in the eyeball the same way they make your ankles and feet swell up. The increased pressure can change in the curvature of your eye, which affectively changes your prescription while you’re pregnant. You might also experience a change in the thickness of your cornea, making your eyes feel more sensitive.
- Poorer peripheral vision. No one is quite sure why some pregnant women notice a reduced field of vision. While it is likely hormone related as well, we just do not know for certain. If you experience this symptom, do not panic. Your vision will return to normal after your baby is born.
What things can help blurry vision during pregnancy?
- Use eye drops – If your eyes feel especially dry, lubricating drops, also known as “artificial tears,” are often safe, affordable, and can be found at any drugstore. Ask your eye doctor for a recommendation to be sure that you choose something effective and safe to use during pregnancy.
- Give your eyes a rest – Use plenty of light when reading. Rest your eyes often and do not try to drive if you feel like you are not seeing very well. If your contact lenses are bothering you, consider wearing your glasses until after delivery.
- Do not get a new prescription – Unless the changes are so pronounced that you’re having a tough time functioning, don’t bother with a new pair of glasses or contacts while you are pregnant. Wait until after you have your baby.
- Do not over-correct – Eye doctors recommend you steer clear of corrective eye surgery (like LASIK) for six months before conception, during pregnancy, and at least six months after delivery (or six months from the point you stop breastfeeding). While it has no effect on your baby, it could cause over-correction, requiring additional surgery to correct.
- Use the 20-20-20 Rule. If you use a computer screen, phone, tablet, etc. for extended periods, you may experience eye strain or blurry vision — a common problem that may be made worse by pregnancy. Blinking often and taking frequent breaks from the screen can help. Every 20 minutes, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
If blurry vision during your pregnancy is really bothering you, talk to your eye doctor. S/he may have suggestions to help you cope with the symptoms. But rest assured, most vision complaints disappear once you have your baby.
How can I prevent blurry vision during pregnancy?
While you cannot prevent blurry vision during pregnancy, you can be prepared for it. Acquire a supply of artificial tears, adjust the lighting where you read and work and locate that old pair of glasses (in case you lose one).
While you likely can not eliminate visually intense tasks during your pregnancy, reducing them and combing them can greatly diminish the impact on your life. Ask a friend to drive you to appointments, do your reading in the morning when your eyes are fresh and well rested, etc.
When can I expect blurry vision during pregnancy to end?
Blurry vision and dry eyes are common among pregnant women. Fortunately, these changes are temporary, and your eyesight should return to normal after delivery.
Should I call the doctor about blurry vision during pregnancy?
Blurry vision during pregnancy is quite normal, and not a symptom of an issue with your pregnancy. However, sudden changes in vision during pregnancy can sometimes signify more serious problems, including gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
What is Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia, also known as pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) or toxemia is a disorder that generally develops after week 20 of pregnancy and is characterized by a sudden onset of high blood pressure. You may or may not also experience other symptoms, including protein in the urine and severe swelling of the hands and face.
What is Gestational diabetes?
- Gestational diabetes is diabetes first diagnosed during pregnancy (gestation). Like other diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how your cells use sugar (glucose). It causes high blood sugar that can affect your pregnancy and your baby’s health.
If you have gestational diabetes during pregnancy, generally your blood sugar returns to its usual level soon after delivery. But if you’ve had gestational diabetes, you have a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
It’s important to let your eye doctor know if you experience sudden blurry vision or other eye or vision changes during pregnancy to rule out potential complications. Keep an eye out for other symptoms of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, including:
Severe swelling of the hands and face
- Severe headache that doesn’t respond to Tylenol
- Sudden weight gain not related to eating
- Unusual thirst
- Frequent urination in large amounts
To reduce the risk of serious complications, attend all of your scheduled prenatal appointments, talk to your practitioner about all of your symptoms, and make sure to take note of any changes. These conditions are usually very manageable, especially if they’re caught and treated early.
And finally, pregnant or not, be sure to call your eye doctor immediately any time you notice flashes of light, floaters that don’t go away, spider webs or a curtain over a portion of your vision, or double vision that persists for more than two hours.