Seeing Stars and More Ways Pregnancy Affects Your Vision

Vision changes can happen during pregnancy and are usually minor. For example, your vision may seem somewhat blurry or your eyes may feel dry and irritated. 

Up to 15% of all pregnant people will experience minor eye and vision changes, which are related to fluctuating hormone levels and are usually harmless. However, seeing stars while pregnant can be a sign of preeclampsia, a dangerous blood pressure condition that requires immediate medical attention.

This article looks at some of the eye and vision changes that may occur during your pregnancy, and how you can take care of your eyes when you're expecting.

Pregnant woman reading on the couch

Izabela Habur / Getty Images

Why Does Your Eyesight Change During Pregnancy?

Hormone fluctuations and physical changes that happen during pregnancy can affect your vision. These changes tend to be most pronounced during the second and third trimester, and they are almost always temporary. Your vision should return to normal after the birth of your baby.

What Are Normal Vision Changes During Pregnancy?

Normal vision changes that happen during pregnancy tend to be minor. You might notice that your vision is blurry or that your eyes seem dry and irritated. 

Blurry Vision

Pregnancy often causes swelling throughout the body. Swelling that sometimes occurs during pregnancy may cause mild changes to your glasses or contact lens prescription.

You may feel more nearsighted with distant objects being more blurry. For most people who are pregnant, these vision changes are not enough to warrant a prescription change or new glasses during pregnancy, as this is usually temporary.

Dry Eyes

Blame it on hormones if your eyes constantly feel dry. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can dry your eyes out and leave you with little or no extra tears for lubrication. The quality or quantity of your tears may also change substantially while you're pregnant.

Dry eyes can sometimes cause you to feel like a piece of sand is in your eye. Your eyes may burn, itch, or even suddenly become excessively watery.

Eye Puffiness

Water retention during pregnancy doesn't just affect your legs and feet; it can also lead to puffiness around the eyes. This puffiness can even make it harder to see things that are in your peripheral (side) vision.

Sensitive Corneas

During pregnancy, the shape of the cornea changes in subtle ways. The cornea may also swell, which is called edema. Corneal edema can cause the cornea to become irritated more easily.

If you wear contact lenses, this can cause them to fit differently. Dry eyes may also make your contact lenses feel uncomfortable.

If you're an avid contact lens wearer, you may have to switch to glasses during your pregnancy. Most healthcare providers advise against being fitted for new contact lenses while you're pregnant as your eyes may be in a constant state of change.

If you normally wear contact lenses on a daily basis, make sure you have a good pair of backup glasses to wear during your pregnancy if you need a break from your contacts.

What Conditions Cause Vision Changes That Are a Concern?

Some changes in vision during pregnancy can point to a serious condition that requires treatment from a healthcare provider. If you have vision changes like seeing stars or blurry vision, you may be developing a pregnancy complication such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes.


If you're seeing stars or spots in your vision during pregnancy, let your healthcare provider know right away. These dark spots could be what's known as scotomata. Unlike floaters, which move across the visual field and can be normal (whether pregnant or not), scotomata are stable and usually involve a larger part of the field of vision.

Scotomata can indicate preeclampsia or eclampsia, complications during some pregnancies that can cause blood pressure to become dangerously high.

Preeclampsia can also cause face and hand swelling, rapid weight gain, chronic headache, upper belly pain, trouble breathing, and nausea. It is seen in up to 8% percent of pregnant people. Preeclampsia can be a serious issue. A healthcare provider should be contacted if you experience these symptoms.

Although preeclampsia and eclampsia can result in unusual visual symptoms, in most cases, eye damage is limited and vision returns to normal upon resolution of the high blood pressure.

What Is Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia a dangerous condition that usually develops after the 20th week of pregnancy. People with this condition have extremely high blood pressure. If left untreated, preeclampsia can cause serious or fatal complications for both you and your fetus.

Gestational Diabetes

Another pregnancy complication that can affect your vision is gestational diabetes, which is high blood sugar that occurs during pregnancy. High blood sugar can damage the blood vessels in the retina, which can cause blurry vision. 

In severe cases, both of these conditions can cause permanent eye problems or even blindness.

What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

If you have diabetes, you are susceptible to the development or worsening of diabetic retinopathy during your pregnancy. People who are pregnant may develop bleeding or fluid leakage in the retina, which can cause blurred vision and, in some cases, significant vision loss and even blindness.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Mention any vision changes to your healthcare provider. Even blurry vision needs to be noted, since it can be a symptom of gestational diabetes.

Call your healthcare provider right away if you experience:

  • Flashing lights, stars, or spots in your vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Double vision (diplopia)
  • Blind spots or partial vision loss
  • Vision that seems dim

If you have any type of diabetes, you should have at least one and possibly more eye examinations during pregnancy, especially if your blood sugar levels are not stable. Obstetricians are aware of this and usually work closely with your eye care professionals.

How to Take Care of Your Eyes During Pregnancy

Your healthcare provider may recommend that you use artificial tears several times a day to alleviate discomfort due to dry eyes. Always talk to your healthcare provider before using over-the-counter remedies during pregnancy. Eye drops and other eyecare products you used before pregnancy may not be safe during pregnancy.

Ask your eye healthcare provider about other treatments if artificial tears don't resolve your symptoms.

If you wear contact lenses, consider wearing them for shorter periods of time. Give your eyes a break by alternating between glasses and contact lenses, or switch to wearing glasses all the time until after your baby is born.

If your eyes are puffy, try applying a cool, wet washcloth or a cool gel pack. You can also help reduce water retention by eating foods that are low in sodium and caffeine and making sure to stay well-hydrated.

Vision Changes After Pregnancy

It is possible to have minor vision changes after pregnancy, but it is unlikely. In most cases when a person's vision is affected while pregnant, any changes they experienced will go back to normal after giving birth.


It is normal to experience minor changes in your vision during pregnancy, including blurry vision and dry eyes. Since blurry vision can sometimes be a symptom of a serious pregnancy complication, however, you should talk to your healthcare provider if you experience it.

If you experience other vision changes like flashes of light, stars, light sensitivity, and double vision, contact a healthcare provider right away.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  8. Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust. Diabetic eye screening in pregnancy

Additional Reading
  • Murkoff H, Mazel S. What to Expect When You're Expecting. 5th ed. New York, NY: Workman Publishing; 2016.

By Troy Bedinghaus, OD
Troy L. Bedinghaus, OD, board-certified optometric physician, owns Lakewood Family Eye Care in Florida. He is an active member of the American Optometric Association.