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How does pregnancy affect your vision?
Medically reviewed by Alastair Lockwood on 11 November 2020
You'll experience many changes during pregnancy, including morning sickness and lower back pain. Whilst some changes are noticeable; other changes are subtle. You may also find that your vision changes as a result of the hormonal fluctuations and physical changes involved in a pregnancy. This article explains how pregnancy can affect your vision and the reasons why.
Can pregnancy affect eyesight?
Pregnancy can affect your eyesight due to changes in hormones, metabolism, fluid retention, and blood circulation. If you already have an eye condition, such as diabetic eye disease, the changes to your vision during pregnancy can be more severe.
During pregnancy, your tear production often reduces, resulting in dry or itchy eyes. If you wear contact lenses, this could be particularly uncomfortable. Artificial tears or eye drops can be used to ease the discomfort. You should discuss using these with your doctor first to make sure that the ingredients are safe for you.
Pregnant women may also find that their eyes are more sensitive to light which can result in migraine headaches. Sunglasses with an anti-reflective coating can be worn to reduce headaches as they reflect glare from the sun.
Distorted and blurry vision is also common during pregnancy due to water retention. This can result in water building up behind the eye, causing the cornea to change shape. Corrective eye surgery is not recommended during pregnancy as it would be impossible to take an accurate measurement with the cornea being misshapen.
Your vision should revert to normal after pregnancy. However, if it doesn't and you experience more severe eye problems, you should go for an eye exam.
What causes vision problems in pregnancy?
Here are some of the factors that cause vision problems during pregnancy.
Pregnancy hormones cause fluid retention, which causes the cornea to thicken and the fluid pressure within the eyeball to increase. This causes blurred vision. Pregnancy hormones can also decrease tear production, which causes visual acuity to diminish.
Pregnancy, coupled with health conditions such as pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes, can cause vision problems in pregnancy. High blood pressure and damage to another organ are both signs of pre-eclampsia. Other symptoms include:
- Temporary vision loss
- Light sensitivity
- Blurred vision
- Seeing flashing lights or auras
Pre-eclampsia is a serious condition which can progress rapidly and cause other serious problems. If you experience these symptoms, you should call your doctor immediately.
Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of diabetes that women can experience during pregnancy. High blood sugar levels caused by diabetes can damage small blood vessels that supply your retina, resulting in blurry vision.
If you are already diabetic and have diabetic retinopathy, your eyes will require much more regular check-ups, because changes can occur much more rapidly. Please contact your doctor or ophthalmologist if this is the case.
Noticing changes in your vision during pregnancy
If you notice changes in your eyesight during pregnancy, you should always consult your doctor. They should be able to advise you on the best treatments to deal with these changes during pregnancy and after. It's important to maintain the best possible eye health by eating a balanced diet and keeping hydrated.
How long after pregnancy does vision return to normal?
Your vision should return to normal within several months after giving birth. Therefore, you shouldn't change your prescription or get laser eye surgery during pregnancy as this could lead to overcorrection.
Can eyesight change after pregnancy?
You may find that your eyesight has changed after giving birth. However, it is recommended that you wait a few months before updating your prescription. This is because it can take up to three months for your prescription to return to normal.
Nevertheless, if changes in your eyesight are interfering with your day-to-day activities, you should speak to your optometrist about updating your prescription.