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Blurry Vision During Pregnancy

Blurry Vision During Pregnancy

If you’ve had the privilege of being pregnant before, then you likely know that there is no part of the body that is left untouched or unchanged during those nine months. Your vision is no exception. For many women, harmless changes to vision can be a frustrating part of pregnancy – some estimates suggest that 14% of women need a new eyeglass prescription during pregnancy! If you’ve been rubbing your eyes, staring blurrily at your phone, and quietly wondering if you’ll ever be able to read your Kindle again, you may be one of the women experiencing vision changes when pregnant.

 

In this article:

 

What Causes Blurry Vision During Pregnancy?

The changes that can occur to a woman’s vision during pregnancy can be classified in two ways: physiologic changes and pathologic changes. Physiologic changes involve measurable changes to a woman’s body parts and systems. Pathologic changes occur as a result of an existing condition that is exacerbated by pregnancy.

Physiologic Changes

  • Melasma: During pregnancy, many women experience pigmentation changes on their eyelids and around their eyes.
  • Tear production: Pregnancy hormones affect a women’s ability to produce tears, leading to dry eyes and irritation.
  • Cornea: The cornea may experience changes in thickness and curvature, leading to increased sensitivity.
  • Peripheral vision: Though no one is certain why, many pregnant women report a reduction in their visual field. Peripheral vision can be significantly diminished.
  • Immunity suppression: During pregnancy, a woman’s immune system does not function optimally, leaving her susceptible to eye infections and complications.
  • Eye pressure: The pressure of the eye is known as intraocular eye pressure (IOP). The hormones of pregnancy decrease a women’s IOP, particularly in the 3rd Low IOP leads to blurry vision.

Pathologic changes:

There are a variety of pre-existing conditions that can be exacerbated and complicated by pregnancy. Two of the most common ones, particularly as they relate to a women’s vision, are preeclampsia and diabetes. Other systemic conditions that affect a women’s vision or are additionally strained by pregnancy include disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), Grave’s disease, Sheehan syndrome, and glaucoma.

Preeclampsia: Preeclampsia is a potentially life-threatening condition for both the mother and the developing baby. It is pregnancy complication marked by high blood pressure, blurry vision, upper abdominal pain, headaches, and swelling. It is not uncommon for it to affect an otherwise completely healthy pregnancy.

Diabetes: For a woman with existing diabetes, pregnancy can cause an increase in the development and progression of diabetic retinopathy (damage to the retina). Blurry vision is also a complication of uncontrolled sugar levels with gestational diabetes. 

 

When Does Blurry Vision Start In Pregnancy?

It is difficult to say exactly when blurry vision may begin in a women’s pregnancy. Most of the physiologic and pathologic changes become noticeable sometime in a woman’s 2nd trimester. Vision changes that are related to hormonal changes usually peak in the 3rd trimester, when hormonal levels are at their highest.

 

Preeclampsia and its side effects may begin around the 20th week of pregnancy. They can also show up any time thereafter. Women with existing diabetes usually find that vision changes begin to worsen in the 2nd trimester and may continue as long as 12 months postpartum.

 

How To Deal With Blurry Vision While Pregnant

When vision changes are a normal side effect of pregnancy, there are a few ways a woman can treat herself at home.

  • Be patient: Because most women report a return to normal vision after delivery, avoid any corrective surgeries or new prescriptions in the year or so before and after conception and delivery/breastfeeding. Give your hormones a chance to return to normal before making any permanent investments or decisions.
  • Give your eyes a break: If you normally wear contacts, consider wearing your glasses more regularly. Read in good lighting and avoid screens when possible.
  • Over the counter (OTC) eye-drops: If you are experiencing irritation and dryness, invest in some pregnancy safe eye drops or artificial tears. Talk to your provider about what’s appropriate, particularly if OTC options aren’t working for you.

 

Can I Prevent Blurred Vision During Pregnancy?

Unfortunately, you cannot prevent blurry vision during pregnancy. Your best option is to manage the irritation and discomforts with the mentioned home treatment tips.

 

If you do have an existing condition that could be exacerbated by pregnancy and further complicate your vision, stay in communication with your care provider to ensure you are managing your condition well.

 

When Does Blurry Vision Typically End?

Many women report that their vision returns to normal after delivery of their baby and the settling of their pregnancy hormones. There are some women who will experience permanent vision changes and need an update to their prescription. Most care providers recommended waiting to see an ophthalmologist to assess your vision until after your delivery.

 

Diabetic women may find that vision changes and discomforts can linger up to 12 months into the postpartum period.

 

When To See A Doctor

It is always good to inform your provider about any vision changes. If you find your vision changes to be new onset or constant, you provider may recommend a visit to your ophthalmologist.

 

If your vision changes are accompanied by other symptoms (like dizziness, headache, swelling, excessive fatigue or rapid weight gain), this could be an indication of preeclampsia or uncontrolled diabetes and you need to be assessed by your provider.

 

Without question, pregnancy leaves few (if any) systems of the body untouched. While less noticeable to your friends or family, your vision can be significantly affected during those nine months. If you find yourself frustrated or worried about your vision changes, reach out to your care provider. Ultimately, rest assured mama. Most vision changes during pregnancy are completely normal and you will soon be able to see your sweet baby perfectly.

 

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  • Laura Mansfield
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