10 things you did not know about how pregnancy can affect vision

Pregnancy Vision

PLX Academy · News · 29 March 2022

Pregnancy Vision

When a woman becomes pregnant, she expects certain changes in her body.  But few women realize that pregnancy can affect their eyes and vision.  The hormonal and physical changes that come with pregnancy vision change.

A new study by the American Optometric Association finds that one in six women will experience vision changes during pregnancy, and as many as two out of five women are unaware that such changes are possible.

Regular eye care is important to both, mom and baby. Remember that actions during pregnancy can influence the health of the unborn baby, including their eyesight.

Find out what are normal eyesight changes during pregnancy, and when you should consult your doctor, with these 10 ways where pregnancy can affect vision.

1. Increased sensitivity to light  

You do not have to be pregnant,  to know that bright lights hurt your eyes. However, pregnant women are more susceptible to bright lights due to headaches and migraines caused by changes in hormones.

2. Existing conditions can become more severe

Pregnancy can cause near-sightedness, far-sightedness, or worsen other conditions such as glaucoma.  This is a temporary change in vision that should return to normal after pregnancy. However, it is recommended to inform your doctor of any vision changes during pregnancy, including inappropriate prescription glasses or contact lenses.

3. Dry and itchy eyes

A reduction in tear production can cause pregnant women to suffer from dry and itchy eyes. This can make wearing contacts uncomfortable for some pregnant women. 

4. Seeing ‘spots’

Seeing spots can potentially indicate a more serious health risk, such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes. This includes seeing flashes, auras or seeing double.

5. Risk factors for preeclampsia

Changes in vision  can be a symptom of a serious condition in pregnancy – preeclampsia – which if left untreated can have fatal consequences for the fetus. Warning signs may be blurred vision and light sensitivity. The disease can be manifested by high blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine. It occurs in 3 to 8% of pregnant women, mostly after the 20th week of pregnancy.

6. Vision may be affected by gestational diabetes

Women who suffer from diabetes either before or develop it during pregnancy, (which is called gestational diabetes), are at risk of vision impairment. Diabetes in pregnant women can cause damage to blood vessels in the eye, according to experts.  Blurry vision during pregnancy may be a sign of gestational diabetes and women who experience any vision changes are recommended to contact their doctor. Gestational diabetes is temporary but can be serious if not diagnosed.

7. Retaining water behind the eyes can change its shape

If during pregnancy, the body retains water, the fluid can accumulate behind the eye or in the eyeball itself.  It stimulates a change in the shape of the cornea,  changing the way light passes through the eye, which can distort or deform the sharpness of vision. Glasses and contact lenses may not be as effective. Surgery or additional medication is not recommended during this period. At the ophthalmological examination, together with your doctor, you will find the right solution

8. Puffiness around eyes and eyelids

It may not be as surprising to learn, pregnancy can lead to the eye area becoming swollen with water retention. However, this includes puffy eyelids, which can impact a pregnant woman’s peripheral vision.  Your ophthalmologist will tell you how to reduce the swelling.

9. Glaucoma medications may have side effects

It is reported that pregnancy may help women who suffer from glaucoma as some expecting mothers experience a decrease in eye pressure. However, for women who have glaucoma, taking medications during pregnancy may be unsafe for the baby, therefore you should talk with your ophthalmologist. 

10. Temporary changes in hormones

Most of the changes related to the health of the eyes which occur during pregnancy, are the result of hormonal imbalance and are temporary, i.e. disappear after childbirth.  But pregnancy is a condition where health risks are unacceptable so you should see your ophthalmologist for everything that happens to your eyes.