Vision changes in pregnancy

Changes in hormones and fluid retention can cause blurred vision and other sight problems when you're pregnant - find out what's normal and what's not

pregnancy-eyesight_176780

For many women, there are many more bothersome pregnancy discomforts than having the sharpness of their vision decline a little bit.

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Though it is pretty annoying – and confusing – when suddenly your eyes aren’t working like they used to.

But you can rest assured that any changes in your eyesight won’t last forever, and should improve after you’ve had your baby. Panic over 😌

These changes to your vision are completely normal when you’re pregnant, but it’s good to keep an eye (get it?) on which symptoms are normal, and which aren’t…

How is sight affected by pregnancy?

Your eyesight is affected by 2 things during your pregnancy.

Like so many things, the changing of your hormones is a big factor. Your progesterone levels are low at the early stages and increase during the 3rd trimester, and both of these shifts can affect how you see.

There’s also fluid retention, which is known to affect the dryness of your eyes, and make them itchy and uncomfortable.

What happens to vision during pregnancy?

One major changes is the thickening of the cornea (the transparent bit covering the front of your eye). It can also change shape when you’re pregnant, though sometimes these changes occur when breastfeeding, too.

These changes to the cornea can lessen the sharpness of your vision, but it can also mean that wearing hard lenses becomes uncomfortable.

If you can, try to wear spectacles or switch to soft lenses if you find your hard lenses difficult to wear.

Why does pregnancy cause dry eyes?

Dry eyes when you’re pregnant, known as Dry Eyes Syndrome, is caused by fluid retention. Meaning, the water you retain during pregnancy affects the tear film, which could cause your eyes feel dry and itchy.

You can also blame your hormones again – this time it’s thought to be caused by a drop in the male hormone, androgen, which helps produce tears and keep your eyes moist.

The most likely side effects of this are experiencing a less sharp focus in your vision, irritated eyes or blind spots.

If this happens to you, it’s best to avoid ‘dry air’ as much as possible (that is, go for natural air flow rather than air conditioning, for example).

Speak to your GP or midwife if you feel you need eye drops, as they’ll be able to assure you of what’s safe for you to use.

woman lying down sore eyes

How diabetes affects your eyes during pregnancy

If you have pre-existing diabetes before pregnancy, you will most likely be aware of the medical implications of your condition. Your eyesight may suffer as the blood vessels which serve the retina can be affected. Blurred vision can be affected by your blood sugar level.

If you have diabetes, it is important that you discuss any concerns about your eyesight with your doctor or midwife as soon as there are any changes.

How glaucoma affects your eyes during pregnancy

Interestingly, the condition glaucoma tends to improve slightly during pregnancy because the pressure on the eyes reduces when you are expecting.

Like the reduced eyesight and irritation, the improved status for glaucoma sufferers is (sadly) passing and will return to normal after birth.

When are vision changes in pregnancy not normal?

Everything we’ve described above is normal, but do speak to a medical professional if you have any concerns.

But if you experience any of the following:

  • blurred vision, lasting longer than 2 hours
  • headaches caused by your eyesight
  • seeing spots in front of your eyes

Make sure you speak to your GP or midwife immediately, as these could all be symptoms of more serious pregnancy conditions such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes.

What our mums said

It seems a fair few of our mums have experienced dry eyes – especially in the earlier stages of their pregnancies – or watery, itchy eyes you’d expect as symptoms of hayfever.

“My eyes have been so itchy like when you get hayfever! they have been driving me mad!” says MFMer monkeychopsf.

“I went to my local pharmacy this morning and got some eye drops and the pharmacist said if it doesn’t help it is most likely my hormones and i should go GP so hopefully the eye drops will help.”

“OMG my eyes have been sooo sore and itchy,” added fiona86. “But mine are very watery and are very sensitive to the wind and sun. I must look like im crying when I go out.

“My left eye was bloodshot a few days ago but has died down thank God. I dont know what it could be and it is like having hayfever as you said but obviously too soon in year.”

Meanwhile, Andipink‘s symptoms died down by her 2nd trimester:

“My eyes were really watery from when I became pregnant until I reached 12 weeks when it suddenly stopped.

“My doc said that I could either see the eye doctor to find out if it was a blocked duct or just wait until it cleared up as it may have something to do with my pregnancy.”

Have your say

Was your vision altered by pregnancy? How did you deal with the symptoms? Let us know in the comments below, or on the MFM forum

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