What Causes Blurry Vision During Pregnancy?

If you're experiencing blurry vision during pregnancy, changing hormone levels might be to blame. Here's more about what causes the eye problem and how to resolve it.

pregnant woman wearing glasses
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If you think you're seeing things while pregnant, you're probably right. Your eyes are affected by the same build-up of fluids that give you thickened ankles or bloating. Learn more about blurry vision during pregnancy, with tips for relieving the problem.

What Causes Blurry Vision in Pregnancy?

Thankfully, blurry vision during pregnancy is a temporary condition, albeit a slightly annoying one. If you're experiencing blurry vision and have no previous eye conditions affecting your sight, then your vision might be under the influence of pregnancy hormones.

Some causes of blurry vision during pregnancy may signal complications such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia. If you experience blurry vision during pregnancy, talk to your doctor to rule out any concerns.

Here are some of the most common causes of blurred vision during pregnancy.

Pregnancy hormones cause blurry vision

Pregnancy hormones help support your growing baby, but they can also wreak havoc on your eyesight during the third trimester. The hormones allow your tissues to retain more fluid, which causes your lens and cornea (the outermost layer of your eye) to thicken. You may become more acutely near- or farsighted than usual and have trouble seeing clearly.

The rise in estrogen also causes your eyes to be drier because your body produces fewer tears, says Laura Riley, M.D., an OB-GYN in New York City. This can leave your eyes feeling irritated and looking red. "Dry eye syndrome" can also lead to blurred vision, damage your cornea, or increase your sensitivity to sunlight.

Gestational diabetes causes blurred vision in pregnancy

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy but typically goes away soon after childbirth. It can affect your vision by putting pressure on the eyes, causing blurriness. High blood sugar levels can also impact vision by damaging the small blood vessels in the eye.

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, your doctor may prescribe insulin, exercise, and suggest dietary changes to help keep blood sugar levels even, which can help ease the blurry vision.

Preeclampsia causes blurry vision in pregnancy

According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, changes in vision are considered the most serious symptom and may indicate cerebral edema (brain swelling). You should seek immediate medical attention if you have preeclampsia and experience blurred vision.

Pre-existing eye conditions can cause blurry vision during pregnancy

If you begin your pregnancy with a pre-existing eye condition, that condition could become worse during pregnancy. Some eye conditions that may be affected by pregnancy hormones include:

  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Grave's disease
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Glaucoma
  • Uveitis

How Long Does Blurry Vision Last?

Blurry vision caused by pregnancy hormones usually happens in the third trimester. Some people notice it as early as 10 weeks into pregnancy, and the blurriness can last as long as six weeks postpartum. Pregnancy hormones take some time to fade out after giving birth but rest assured, as your hormones adapt to postpartum life, your vision will likely improve.

If your blurry vision during pregnancy was caused by pre-existing conditions or pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, talk to your doctor about what to expect.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90% of gestational diabetes cases go away within six weeks postpartum. But for the remaining 10%, gestational diabetes can turn into type II diabetes, impairing vision if left untreated.

How to Relieve Blurry Vision

You may find that wearing glasses rather than contact lenses will be more comfortable during pregnancy. Even though your eyesight may be worse than before, don't bother having your prescription adjusted. Your vision will very likely return to normal within 6 weeks of delivery. For this reason, you should also wait to have laser surgery until your hormones stabilize—at least 6 months after your baby is born—to avoid overcorrecting your vision.

If your eye problems affect your everyday life, you can usually relieve any discomfort with "artificial tears" available at most pharmacies, says Dr. Riley. Wear sunglasses to protect your extra-sensitive eyes in strong light.

Should I See a Doctor For Blurry Vision During Pregnancy?

Contact your health care provider immediately if you experience any drastic or sudden changes in your eyesight—like blurred vision, dimming eyesight, double vision, or spots.

Sudden, significant changes in vision like these during pregnancy can signal uncontrolled diabetes. They could also indicate preeclampsia (a form of pregnancy high blood pressure), especially if they’re accompanied by headaches, says Dr. Riley.

Updated by Nicole Harris
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