Can you see clearly now? Maybe not — changes in your vision during pregnancy are fairly common and sometimes stick around until after you deliver.
Your eyes do not deceive you: Many women discover that their vision seems blurred, or at least less sharp than it usually is, during pregnancy. No need to panic, though; your vision will likely return to normal in the blink of an eye after delivery.
When does blurred vision start during pregnancy?
Pregnancy changes every aspect of your body, sometimes uncomfortably, so it’s no surprise that your vision may be affected too. Depending on the reasons, your eyes may be blurred, scratchy or subject to infection at any time while you’re expecting. Many women say it gets worse as pregnancy progresses before it gets better after your baby's birth.
What causes blurred vision during pregnancy?
There are several reasons for this pregnancy symptom, including:
- Reduced tear production. Pregnancy hormones (what else?) decrease tear production (ironically, since they certainly don't decrease crying!), which can lead to eye dryness, irritation and discomfort.
- Eye pressure. Hormones also cause fluid build-up in your eyes, the same way they make your ankles and feet swell up. This can lead to changes in the curvature of your eye, which can affect your vision while you're pregnant. You might also experience a change in the thickness of your cornea, making your eyes feel more sensitive — and contact lenses harder to tolerate.
- Poorer peripheral vision. No one is sure why some pregnant women sometimes have reduced field of vision, but it’s not a bad guess to blame it on hormones too. If you’re experiencing this symptom, be reassured that your eyesight will snap back to normal after your baby is born.
You may also notice a change in pigment around your eyes, as if you had taken a makeup brush and applied brown eye shadow in the dark. These pigmentations, called melasma, are normal and will fade slowly after birth, so no need to stockpile the concealer.
What can I do about blurred vision when I'm pregnant?
Here are some tips to help you cope with pregnancy-related bleary eyesight:
- Use pregnancy-safe eye drops. If your eyes feel especially dry, lubricating eyes drops, also known as “artificial tears,” are often safe, affordable, and can be found at the drugstore. Ask your doctor for recommendations to be sure that you choose something that’s effective and safe to use while you're pregnant.
- Give your eyes a rest. Don’t strain your eyes. Read with plenty of light, rest your eyes often, and don’t try to drive if you feel like you can’t see very well. If your contact lenses are bothering you, consider wearing your glasses until after delivery.
- Don't shell out for a new prescription. Unless the changes are so pronounced that you're having a tough time seeing, don't bother with a new pair of glasses or contact prescription while you're pregnant. Wait until after you've had your baby, when your vision should go back to normal.
- Don't over-correct. Ophthalmologists recommend that you steer clear of corrective laser eye surgery (like LASIK) for six months before conception, during pregnancy, and six months after delivery (or six months post-weaning, if you're breastfeeding). While it won't hurt your baby, it might lead to over-correction, which could require another surgery later on.
If you stare at a computer screen all day, you might find that your eyes feel strained or your vision is blurry -- a common problem that may be exacerbated by pregnancy. Blinking often and taking frequent breaks away from your screen can help. The American Optometric Association recommends the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at an object that’s about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Other tips to help with computer vision syndrome include minimizing glare from other light sources (like lamps or windows) or using an anti-glare screen, and keeping the screen slightly below eye-level and about two feet from your face. If blurry vision is really bothering you, talk to your doctor. Sometimes eye exercises or vision therapy is helpful to train your brain and eyes to work together more effectively.
Can I prevent blurred vision during pregnancy?
While you can’t prevent pregnancy vision changes, you can be prepared with an arsenal of lubricating eye drops and a few pairs of glasses (in case you lose one). You may also want to put your partner, relatives and friends on notice that you may not be available for driving until your vision goes back to normal.
When can I expect my blurred vision to end?
Blurred vision and scratchy eyes are fairly common among pregnant women. Luckily, the changes you notice are temporary and your pregnancy eyesight should go back to normal after delivery.
When should I call the doctor about blurred vision during pregnancy?
Blurry vision in pregnancy is usually very normal, not a symptom of miscarriage or another serious complication. However sudden changes in vision during pregnancy, including blurred vision, can sometimes signify more serious problems, including gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
It’s important to always let your doctor know if you experience sudden blurry vision or other vision changes during pregnancy to rule out potential complications. Keep an eye out for other symptoms of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, including:
- Severe swelling of the hands and face
- Severe headache that doesn’t respond to Tylenol
- Sudden weight gain not related to eating
- Unusual thirst
- Frequent urination in large amounts
To reduce the risk of serious complications, attend all of your scheduled prenatal appointments, talk to your practitioner about all of your symptoms, and make sure to take note of any changes. These conditions are usually very manageable, especially if they’re caught and treated early on, although severe preeclampsia may require early delivery to keep you and your baby safe.
Blurry vision can also be a complication of pink eye, a common inflammation or infection of the eye. Let your doctor know right away if you experience other pink eye symptoms, including redness, itchiness or a gritty feeling in one or both eyes.
Also be sure to call your practitioner right away if you notice flashes, dimming vision, spots or floaters that don't go away, or double vision that persists for more than two hours.