There are the things you expect when you’re pregnant— weird food cravings, swollen ankles, and even being able to smell your neighbor’s garbage from inside your own living room. But what about the bodily changes that no one mentions? Those are the shifts that compel you to carry out massive internet searches at 3:04 am. Then you realize you can’t even read your screen. Are you wearing the wrong glasses? Is the screen dirty? Did you put your contacts in the wrong eye? So what’s the deal— are vision changes normal during pregnancy?
Are vision changes normal during pregnancy?
Ophthalmologist mom, Dr. Debra Guthrie, says that your vision may in fact fluctuate during pregnancy, and that many pregnant people do experience some vision changes. Still, this is more of an annoyance than an issue to worry or stress about. “Most of the changes are limited to the duration of the pregnancy and are of no major concern,” Guthrie says.
Dana Haughney experienced some minor vision changes while pregnant. “Things got blurry and the light was odd,” Haughney says. Even though she remembers reading that vision changes could be a thing, the overall blurriness she experienced still took her by surprise. She didn’t realize how common it was and says, “It only happened a limited number of times so it didn’t really bother me.” In fact, for Haughney the changes were so infrequent her life didn’t slow down in the least.
What to expect when it comes to eyesight changes during pregnancy?
“The changes are temporary,” says Galo Andrade, optician and NY State licensed contact lens practitioner. “Generally there are small changes in power of your prescription, but you may notice distance to be a little blurrier, prompting you to see your local MD.”
So, if one day while pregnant, you wake to find your alarm clock looking fuzzy or your phone font suddenly appears too tiny, you’re not alone. Brittany Carricato Cox reports that the texts on her phone went blurry and she needed to take more breaks from reading. “It felt like a strain on my eyes,” she begins, “and I was squinting to compensate.” The changes weren’t drastic, but Cox says she’d never had issues with her eyes so they were noticeable.
When to expect eyesight changes during pregnancy?
“Most often women see the eyesight changes late in the second or third trimesters,” says Andrade. “Everything is changing, including your eyes.”
How long it lasts— eyesight changes during pregnancy?
Andrade reminds us that, “it’s temporary and may last throughout your pregnancy. It may even take several months after having a baby for issues such as dry eye to improve”.
Common causes of vision changes in pregnancy
“Many people get a little blurry,” assures Guthrie. Blurry vision is the most commonly reported change in eyesight during pregnancy and an estimated 14 percent of all women experience this, according to BabyCenter. This is usually linked to changes in the cornea and occurs mainly in the second and third trimesters. Cox says her vision altered around her third trimester, and Haughney remembers moments of blurry vision appearing in her second. While the causes for blurry vision are different for everyone, these are common causes:
- hormone fluctuations
- fluid retention
- blood circulation
Is blurred vision during pregnancy avoidable?
“No, it’s not,” says Andrade. “There’s nothing you can do. Just know that it’s temporary.”
Do dry eyes occur during pregnancy?
Blurry vision isn’t the only way your sight can switch. Dry eye is another occurrence to add to your list of changes (the one you’ve written in unusually large print), and you can experience this in one or both eyes. Andrade says that dry eyes are definitely worse during pregnancy. Symptoms may include irritation, a gritty sensation, light sensitivity, and fluctuations in vision. If you’ve been experiencing any of these bothersome effects, Andrade suggests using “preservative-free artificial tears” 3-4 times a day and decreasing contact lens usage.
Should you continue wearing contact lenses while pregnant?
During your pregnancy, you might need to size up your shoes from a size 8 to a size 80, and you may also find your eyes don’t enjoy wearing your beloved contacts anymore due to subtle changes in the cornea. This can lead you to ditch your contacts for your glasses. But the question remains: Should you?
Andrade gives us this eye-opening suggestion, “We definitely recommend wearing glasses over contact lenses during pregnancy. In eliminating contact lenses, you increase the oxygen supply to the eye.” Andrade goes on to say that if an infection were to develop, doctors would not recommend that pregnant women take antibiotics, so during the last trimester especially—stick to wearing glasses only.
Can pregnancy cause distorted vision or seeing spots?
Yep, pregnancy can cause these phenomena to occur. If you’re seeing spots ask yourself these two questions: Are you seeing floaters which may occur during pregnancy—or not? Are the floaters associated with flashes or a curtain in your vision? Guthrie says if your answers are yes to these questions then call your local ophthalmologist to set up a dilated exam immediately. It’s also good to note that seeing spots may be a sign of early preeclampsia, Guthrie says. The Mayo Clinic defines this as a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys. For any health concerns while pregnant, it’s always a good move to reach out to your OBGYN.
What are preeclampsia vision changes like?
When looking out for signs of preeclampsia, Guthrie says to watch out for seeing spots and colors, light sensitivity, and headaches. If you experience any of these symptoms, Guthrie instructs you to communicate them immediately to your obstetrician/midwife.
When Diane Hodges woke up one morning in the last part of her second trimester, she saw a slightly dark spot with wavy edges in her field of vision. “I initially thought it might be a migraine aura but quickly dismissed this,” she says. (FYI: a migraine aura is generally described as flashing lights, zigzag lines, or bright dots that precede a migraine.) Hodges, a labor and delivery nurse, was aware that vision changes can be symptoms of severe problems, so she called her doctor. “My doctor said I’m sure it’s fine but go see someone now!’”.
Making an appointment with an ophthalmologist, the doctor did regular vision checks as well as some 3-D imaging. “There was a small fluid-filled sac pushing out against the retina,” Hodges explains. She goes on to say this wasn’t an indication of anything super serious and the main concern was the pressure pushing during labor would create. “Fortunately, it resolved on its own within a few weeks and was no longer a problem during labor,” she says. Guthrie agrees it can be very scary experiencing visual auras. “The good news is that they will resolve,” she says.
Can your vision return to normal after giving birth?
The long and the short answer is: Yes. For most, vision changes are transient and not worrisome, Guthrie says. She goes on to say that it’s rare for changes to be permanent unless there are comorbidities such as preexisting diabetes.
For Hodges, that pesky spot occasionally emerges during stressful times, but after following up with her eye doctor, all tests have shown it’s not something to worry bout. “Waking up with a sudden vision change was scary, but luckily it wasn’t anything to be concerned about in the end!” she says.
When should you see a doctor for vision concerns?
“It’s always better to be safe,” Guthrie begins, “If you’re not sure just ask your doctor what to do. It’s normal not to know what needs medical attention.” When blurry vision continued throughout Cox’s pregnancy, she mentioned these changes to her doctor. “He basically reassured me it was a pretty common thing and said it would hopefully go back to normal after the baby arrived,” she says. Cox says this new found fuzziness wasn’t a huge impact on her daily life. “It was more of an annoyance than anything else and I just tried to take more breaks from my phone or reading,” she says.
Should you get new glasses while pregnant?
Guthrie suggests only getting a pair of new glasses during pregnancy if you aren’t able to participate in your normal daily activities. And it’s good to note, that most opticians will do a lens exchange within 90 days.
So, now we can see it all: Pregnancy can change your eyesight, but these shifts should disappear along with strange cravings for crackers with tomato paste and Hobbit-sized swollen feet. Guthrie does leave us with one last little practical tip: There will be visual recovery—now replaced with sleep deprivation. Enjoy being a parent!