5 Ways Pregnancy Can Affect Your Vision

Vision problems are among the many possible changes your body can go through during pregnancy. They may be harmless or point to a serious problem. For example, seeing stars while pregnant can be a sign of preeclampsia, a blood pressure condition that can be fatal to both you and your fetus.

Fluctuating hormone levels during pregnancy are responsible for most of these changes. Hormones are quite elevated during the last two months of pregnancy, causing your body to change in a multitude of ways.

While these changes are usually temporary, they can sometimes signal more serious conditions. If you're experiencing vision or eye-related changes that concern you, or if you just need help with sudden blurry vision, consult your pregnancy healthcare provider and eye-care provider.

This article looks at the top five eye and vision changes that may occur during your pregnancy.

1

Seeing Stars and Spots

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. Although this 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.

2

Uncomfortable Contact Lenses

Pregnant woman reading on the couch

Izabela Habur / Getty Images

Wearing contact lenses comfortably requires plenty of lubrication, either in the form of tears or lubricating eye drops. Sometimes the increase in hormones during pregnancy changes the tear film, making the eyes drier. Wearing contact lenses may become intolerable during pregnancy, even if you've worn them for years.

During pregnancy, subtle changes occur to the shape of the cornea too. Those contact lenses that once felt very comfortable may suddenly fit differently due to changes in corneal curvature. The cornea may also swell, which is called edema. Corneal edema can cause the cornea to become irritated more easily.

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.

3

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 one day and distant objects may be 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.

4

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.

Your healthcare provider may recommend that you use artificial tears several times a day to alleviate discomfort due to dry eyes. Ask your eye healthcare provider about other treatments if artificial tears don't resolve your symptoms.

5

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.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why am I seeing stars while pregnant?

    Seeing stars or spots while pregnant can be a sign of preeclampsia. This disease can also cause face and hand swelling, rapid weight gain, chronic headache, upper belly pain, trouble breathing, and nausea. It is seen in about three to five percent of pregnant women. Preeclampsia can be a serious issue. A healthcare provider should be contacted if you experience these symptoms.

  • Can you have vision changes after pregnancy?

    Yes, 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.

3 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.
  1. Omoti, AE, Waziri-Erameh JM, Okeigbemen VW. A review of the changes in the ophthalmic and visual system in pregnancyAfrican Journal of Reproductive Health. 2008;12(3):185-196.

  2. Roos NM, Wiegman MJ, Jansonius NM, Zeeman GG. Visual disturbances in (pre)eclampsia. Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2012;67(4):242-50. doi:10.1097/OGX.0b013e318250a457

  3. All About Vision. Pregnancy Can Cause Dry Eyes and Other Vision Changes.

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.