Vision Changes in Pregnancy

Dr. Russel Lazarus, October 14, 2021

Hormone levels change during pregnancy, which may cause changes in eyesight and eye health.

During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes many changes, but few women are aware of how pregnancy affects their vision.

While most of the visual symptoms expectant moms experience are minor, some symptoms may be a sign of a serious medical condition.

Here are six vision problems to be aware of while pregnant:

1. Refractive changes

Changes in hormone levels during pregnancy can affect the shape of your eyes, necessitating a new prescription for nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism.

Though this is normally not a cause for concern, it’s a good idea to consult an eye doctor about any changes in your vision so that you can determine whether or not to modify your prescription.

The doctor may just advise you to wait a few weeks after delivery before altering your prescription.

2. Puffy eyelids

Another typical side effect of some hormonal changes that women experience while pregnant is puffiness around the eyes.

For a few women, side (peripheral) vision may be obstructed by puffy eyelids.

As a general guideline, drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet that’s low in sodium and caffeine.

3. Dry eyes

Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy might cause natural tear production to decrease, leading to dry eye syndrome in some women.

Many pregnant women experience chronic stinging, gritty, scratchy, and uncomfortable feelings in the eyes.

These symptoms usually go away after birth, but in rare instances  they might be permanent and need to be managed with a prescription or other treatment. If left untreated, dry eye can result in corneal tissue damage and scarring, which can impair vision.

SEE RELATED: Pregnancy Complications: When to See an Eye Doctor 

If you’re suffering from dry eye, contact an eye doctor near you who can prescribe artificial tears, gels, and ointments to help give you relief.

Find an eye doctor near you

4. Blurred vision

Many pregnant women experience water retention, which can affect the thickness and shape of your cornea.

This, in turn, can distort your vision. The cornea usually returns to its regular thickness after giving  birth or when you stop breastfeeding.

5. Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a potentially life-threatening condition that causes high blood pressure, protein in the urine, swelling in the legs, feet, and hands in pregnant women.

Changes in vision can be a sign of this serious condition, which affects at least 5-8% of pregnant women.  

Among the signs and symptoms are:

  • Temporary eyesight loss
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision
  • Auras, flashing lights, or spots

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor or go to the emergency room right away. Preeclampsia can advance quickly, resulting in hemorrhage and other dangerous complications for the mother and child.

6. Gestational diabetes

Diabetes-related high blood sugar levels can harm the tiny blood vessels that supply your retina, resulting in vision loss.

As your pregnancy advances, your odds of developing gestational diabetes increase. 

Hormones released during pregnancy may alter your body in unexpected ways. Some changes, such as morning sickness and weight gain, are expected, but others, such as blurry vision or diabetes, can be completely unexpected and concerning.

LEARN MORE: Guide to Eye Health

Consult with an eye doctor near you who can tell you whether the changes in your vision are harmless or indicative of a more serious problem.

While most of the visual symptoms expectant moms experience are minor, some changes to your vision may be a sign of a serious medical condition.