Blurred Vision During Pregnancy: Know Everything About It
You’ve heard of the many side effects of pregnancy—morning sickness, swollen ankles, and more—but some women may experience other, less common issues. You probably do not consider your eyes one of the areas that pregnancy affects, but many women have blurry vision when they are pregnant.
Blurry vision does not necessarily mean you should worry. However, you should talk to your doctor if it happens to you since it can accompany severe medical conditions associated with pregnancy.
What Is Blurred Vision During Pregnancy?
Blurred vision in pregnancy occurs most often after the first trimester and can last through the remainder of your pregnancy.
Pregnancy hormones can make women experience vision changes, and some even need adjustments to their glasses prescription to see usually. Blurry vision happens to about 15% of pregnant women at various stages.
While it can alert you to something more serious, blurry vision often results from pregnancy hormone fluctuations. Most people find that it does not last long after they give birth.
Women can experience blurry vision in pregnancy for many reasons. Blurred vision may result from the following:
- Reduced tear production: Pregnancy hormones often decrease tear production, which leads to dry and irritated eyes.
- Eye pressure: Hormonal changes, significantly increased estrogen levels, can cause fluid to build up in your eyes, just as it does in your ankles. This fluid buildup can change the shape of your eyes and alter your vision.
- Weakened immune system: While a weakened immune system alone may not change your vision, the illnesses that come with it can. Your immune response directs itself toward protecting your baby, but that can leave you more vulnerable to diseases, including eye infections like pink eye.
- Decreased peripheral vision: Doctors are unsure what causes your peripheral vision to suffer during pregnancy, but many have concluded that it is likely another side effect of pregnancy hormone changes.
- Colored eyelids: Melasma occurs commonly during pregnancy, and it can affect areas around your eyes, too.
Although the above causes are generally harmless, pregnant women occasionally have other health risks to consider with blurred vision. If you have either of the following conditions and your vision changes, be sure to contact your doctor right away.
- Preeclampsia: Preeclampsia is a dangerous but treatable complication that occurs around the 20th week or later in pregnancy. It comes with high blood pressure symptoms in women who had normal blood pressure before they became pregnant. Some women have no signs of this condition, but it can harm both the mother and baby if left untreated.
- Gestational diabetes: This condition occurs in women who did not have diabetes before becoming pregnant. Many people do not experience symptoms, but those who do must monitor their condition and sometimes take medication if diet and exercise do not manage it. While it usually disappears after birth, those who have it during pregnancy will have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes later.
The symptoms you experience will depend on the cause. For example, hormone fluctuation changes alone will not look like a more serious condition.
Morning sickness, including nausea, vomiting, and dizziness, may also accompany your symptoms. Many people who have blurry vision also experience:
- Headaches or migraines
- Unclear or double vision
- Dryness, itching, or irritation
- Eye infections
- Prescription of contact lenses or glasses changes
You might notice these symptoms as early as 10th week, though many women see them happen later. They usually go away soon after birth, although they may linger for up to six weeks after.
If you have blurry vision due to preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, you should watch for other eye issues, including:
- Persistent double vision
- Flashing lights
- Light sensitivity
- Temporary vision loss
- Dimmed vision
- Spots or floaters that linger for more than two hours
If you have any of these symptoms, whether your doctor has diagnosed you with either of these conditions or not, be sure to seek medical attention immediately to avoid complications.
Gestational diabetes and high blood pressure associated with preeclampsia put you at a higher risk of experiencing blurred vision during pregnancy.
High blood pressure can damage your eyes’ blood vessels. It can also cause retinopathy, a type of damage to your retina that can cause bleeding inside the eye.
Most commonly, fluctuating hormones like estrogen and progesterone cause blurred vision. However, because each woman has a different experience with her pregnancy, not everyone will experience these symptoms.
You may not be able to prevent this part of your pregnancy, mainly because these issues happen due to hormone changes. However, while you cannot avoid blurry vision, pregnant women can find other ways to relieve eye strain.
- Avoiding contact lenses will help you decrease eye irritation, especially if your blurry vision happens because of dryness. Wear your glasses or get a pair to have on hand until your vision returns to normal.
- Do eye exercises, even if you do not experience eye trouble all the time. These exercises will keep your eye muscles strong and help your eyes stay focused.
- Rest improves many conditions, including blurry eyes. Try to get enough high-quality sleep and take breaks during the day.
Your doctor will start by performing a physical exam and tests to determine the severity of your trouble. However, they should also conduct additional tests to ensure that your blurred vision symptoms do not point to another condition.
Your doctor will order blood or urine tests, a fetal ultrasound, or a nonstress test (NST) to check for preeclampsia. For gestational diabetes, you start with a glucose challenge test.
During this test, you drink a sweet liquid and then get your blood drawn after an hour. If your sugar level reads over 140, your doctor may order an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) where you get your blood drawn every two or three hours. High blood sugar levels after these tests usually indicate gestational diabetes.
Most of the time, your eyes will return to normal after you give birth. Treating blurry vision usually means finding ways to make yourself more comfortable until the condition goes away on its own.
Use lubricating eye drops to stimulate tear production if your problem stems from dry eyes. They may help you with irritation, too.
Rest your eyes frequently during your pregnancy to avoid worsening your vision. You can also wear sunglasses if you have sensitive eyes along with vision changes.
Many people get a new prescription for their glasses or contact lenses, but you should avoid doing so if possible. Since your vision will change back after birth, you will no longer need the prescription you got during pregnancy. Likewise, do not get corrective surgery.
In most cases, you do not need to worry about your eye health if you experience blurred vision during pregnancy. Although your eyes will return to normal within about six weeks after giving birth, you should talk to your doctor if you experience concerning symptoms.
A medical professional can give you better ways to cope with your changing vision until the problem goes away.