Are Vision Issues During Pregnancy Common?
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Issues with vision during pregnancy are common and usually temporary.
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Your body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy. Some of these variations in fluid levels and blood volume can create changes in your vision and eyes.
Vision problems during pregnancy can include:
- Visual changes
- Headaches and sensitivity to light
- Dry eyes and trouble tolerating contact lenses
- Floaters or dark spots in your vision
Most pregnancy-related vision issues will go away after the baby is born, but some of these changes can be cause for concern. If certain vision changes and issues exist, you must talk to your doctor.
Changes in Eyesight
When you get pregnant, your body can retain water, your blood volume goes up, and your blood pressure can change due to hormone fluctuations. All of these things can lead to changes in your eyesight as well. Fluid retention can lead to swelling in your ankles, but it can also alter the shape of your cornea, which can then impact your vision.
It is common to become more nearsighted and suffer from myopia when pregnant. This is typically a short-term change. Doctors recommend waiting until several weeks postpartum to consider changing your eyewear prescription or getting a corrective surgery like LASIK.
Generally, your cornea will return to its normal shape a few weeks after the baby is born and your hormone levels even out. This means that any refractive errors related to pregnancy will also correct themselves.
This is a common side effect of pregnancy, which can occur due to changes in your cornea and related refractive errors. It can also be caused by a decrease in your tear production. This can seem strange since the hormone surge can actually make you more emotional. You may cry more often, but the lubrication level in your eyes overall is generally lower.
Typically, blurry vision during pregnancy can be treated with lubricating eye drops, resting your eyes frequently, and wearing glasses. These changes will usually return to normal a few weeks postpartum.
Blurry vision can be a sign of a bigger and more concerning issue, such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure (hypertension). Be sure to keep your health care provider in the loop about any vision changes you experience during pregnancy.
Migraines & Light Sensitivity
The changes in your hormone levels, especially estrogen, can also cause migraine headaches, which are common during pregnancy. A migraine can also make your eyes sensitive to the light.
Talk to your doctor about medications that are safe during pregnancy to help with light sensitivity and migraines.
If migraine symptoms are also accompanied by high blood pressure, this can increase your risk for preeclampsia. Let your doctor know if you experience worsening headaches or migraines during your pregnancy.
Dry Eyes & Difficulties Wearing Contact Lenses
Since pregnancy can cause fluctuations in the body’s fluid levels, this can also lead to dry eyes.
Your eyes can become dry and irritated, and this can make it uncomfortable to wear your current contact lenses. Changes in your corneal thickness and curvature of your eye from fluid retention can also make it so that your contact lenses don’t fit as well as they used to. They may no longer correct your vision in the same way.
Artificial tear eye drops can help with dry eyes. You may need to temporarily switch to eyeglasses for the duration of your pregnancy if contacts are uncomfortable.
This effect is only short term. After pregnancy, your eyes should go back to normal.
Floaters & Dark Spots
If you experience floaters or dark spots in your vision, this can indicate a bigger problem and needs to be addressed immediately. Floaters, flashing lights or bright spots, and dark spots in your vision are possible symptoms of preeclampsia.
This dangerous condition occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy, and it is most common in the third trimester. It occurs when a pregnant woman has high blood pressure as well as a high amount of protein in the urine. Preeclampsia is considered a medical emergency that needs immediate attention.
Floaters, vision fluctuation, and dark spots in your field of vision can also be signs of diabetic retinopathy. This can lead to retinal detachment if not treated properly and swiftly.
Cause for Concern
It is important to get regular prenatal care and checkups during your pregnancy. You must also let your doctor know about any changes in your body, including vision issues.
Most of the time, changes in vision are temporary and will disappear after the baby is born and your body starts to regulate. In some cases, however, they can be signs of a bigger issue.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) warns that vision changes can indicate preeclampsia and to let your doctor know if you experience:
- Double vision.
- Blurry vision.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Floaters or dark spots in your field of vision.
- Temporary loss of vision.
- Seeing flashing lights.
Again, vision changes and issues are common during pregnancy. Most are benign and will dissipate a few weeks postpartum. However, some can mean that there is a more serious concern. Just be sure to keep up with your eye health and talk to your health care team about any changes.
- Effect of Pregnancy on Myopia Progression: the SUN Cohort. (July 2017). Eye- The Scientific Journal of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.
- Blurred Vision During Pregnancy. (May 2019). What to Expect.
- Pregnancy and Your Vision. Prevent Blindness.
- Migraine and Pregnancy: What Moms-to-Be Need to Know. (July 2017). American Migraine Foundation.
- Preeclampsia: Signs, Symptoms & Treatment. (June 2017). Live Science.
- 5 Eye Care Tips for Moms-to-Be. (April 2016). American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).