Pregnant women expect a lot of changes, but few are aware that pregnancy can alter their vision. Only about 15% of women experience notable vision change during pregnancy. However, if you or your partner are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, it’s good to know about this.
What Causes Vision Changes in Pregnancy?
You don’t need us to tell you that pregnancy causes enormous hormone changes. Your vision can change along with weight gain and food cravings.
Most of the time, vision change during pregnancy is temporary. Dry eyes are probably the most common since pregnant women often retain water. They can be more problematic during the autumn and spring allergy seasons so it may be a good idea to take out the contact lenses and wear glasses instead. Otherwise, artificial tears or eye drops can ease dry eye, especially for women who strongly prefer contact lenses.
Other pregnant women may find their eyesight is a little blurry or otherwise a bit weaker. For this reason, they should hold off on getting a new eyeglass or contact lens prescription until after delivery. (But it’s perfectly fine to celebrate with a new pair of frames!)
When to Report Blurred Vision While Pregnant
Most of the time, blurred vision in pregnancy is nothing to worry about. However, there are reasons to mention it to your obstetrician.
- It can be a sign of unusually high blood pressure. Pregnancy will cause blood pressure to rise. For some women it can get too high, a condition called gestational hypertension. If this isn’t controlled, it can cause severe swelling and complicate matters later in pregnancy.
- Blurry vision accompanied by light sensitivity, auras, or momentary loss of vision can signal gestational hypertension or in later stages of pregnancy, pre-eclampsia.
These are all conditions your obstetrician is on the alert to identify through blood pressure checks and urine scans. Vision changes are a symptom that can confirm a diagnosis. Treatment includes reduced work hours, bedrest, and sometimes medication.
Gestational Diabetes and Blurred Vision While Pregnant
All pregnant women are tested for gestational diabetes. Blurred vision is a key symptom of this condition. Women who have diabetes need to be particularly alert for sudden blurry vision if they become pregnant.
Migraines and Vision Disturbances in Pregnancy
Migraines are miserable at any time. Some women get them more often during pregnancy, or for the first time. A lucky few stop having them at all during pregnancy!
Many people (pregnant or not) get aural warnings that warn a migraine is coming on. They may see flashes, zigzag lines, spots, or have blind spots. These events can also occur without a migraine coming on — something of a relief when they’re over but still alarming.
Because migraines and auras are strongly associated with hormonal fluctuations, tell your obstetrician if you’re experiencing them for the first time or if they become more frequent. They can indicate a blood pressure issue that needs to be checked out.
Temporary, Pregnancy-Related Eye Disease
Sometimes, a woman in an otherwise healthy pregnancy will start to see blind spots caused by parts of the retina becoming detached.
This, too, can occur in pregnancy and is called central serous chorioretinopathy. It happens when fluid builds up under the retina and is caused by stress hormones. It usually happens later in pregnancy and goes away after delivery. Surgery is generally not required since the retina doesn’t become fully detached.
Although we won’t recommend new prescriptions during your pregnancy, we’re happy to evaluate your overall eye health during this time. Call us for an appointment today!