How pregnancy changes your eyes

How pregnancy changes your eyes

We all know that pregnancy causes a lot of changes in a woman’s body, but did you know it can also affect your eyes? In this post put together by our head office team we take a closer look at how pregnancy changes your eyes.

Every mum-to-be has a range of things they expect to experience while they carry their child: nausea, weird cravings, swollen ankles. But most are surprised to learn that, even though it is quite common, pregnancy often affects vision.

Luckily, most of the changes that affect your vision during pregnancy are only temporary. Once your baby is born, vision usually returns to normal without treatment. However, in some very rare cases, the changes are a sign of more serious problems.

Blurry eyes

The hormones released during pregnancy are essential for the development of your growing baby, but they are also responsible for water retention and swelling which can increase pressure on your eyeballs and make your vision blurry.

Approximately 15% of pregnant women experience blurry eyes, and report having trouble seeing things up close or when they are reading.

Often, in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, the shape of the cornea changes temporarily. When this happens, vision can be impaired or distorted. Suddenly, a pregnant woman finds that her prescription lenses or contacts aren’t as effective as they used to be – or don’t work at all.

This is a well-known temporary side effect of water retention; you can expect the blurry eyes symptoms to reverse themselves within a few months after your delivery.

Although blurry eyes during pregnancy is a nuisance, your local Eyecare Plus optometrist will usually advise against getting a new prescription for your glasses or contact lenses because any new prescription lenses that correct your ‘pregnancy vision,’ will be useless after your vision returns to normal.

Puffy eyes

There is a 50% increase in blood volume and bodily fluids in the pregnant woman’s body. This increase causes changes throughout the body and often, there is a noticeable change in the area around the eyes. Pregnancy puffy eyes and eyelids are a common side-effect of fluid retention and although annoying, remember that it is temporary and nothing to worry about.

Dry eyes

The cascade of hormones of pregnancy can also change the quality and amount of tear production in the eye, leading to another common problem: dry eye. Many expectant mothers complain of scratchy, gritty, and stinging feelings in their eyes.

Dry eyes during pregnancy means that pregnant contact lens wearers experience discomfort with their contacts. The best advice is to take a break from the contacts and opt for glasses for the duration of your pregnancy.

As with most other conditions caused by surging pregnancy hormones, you can expect the symptoms of dry eye will go away a few weeks after the baby is born. That doesn’t mean you need to suffer through it without relief. Your Eyecare Plus optometrist can prescribe a range of safe artificial tears or lubricating eye drops to help reduce discomfort.


Vision symptoms in pregnancy can also provide warning signs of pre-eclampsia, or dangerously high blood pressure. Pre-eclampsia is a serious condition of pregnancy. It’s especially dangerous because many of the pre-eclampsia symptoms seem like normal parts of pregnancy. Although it’s hard to feel your blood pressure rising, changes in vision—like spots or flashing lights—are conspicuously obvious.

All pregnant women are urged to contact their healthcare provider or go to the hospital immediately if they experience these pre-eclampsia symptoms.


Developing diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes) or having diabetes before becoming pregnant can increase your risk of diabetic retinopathy.

Although at first, diabetic retinopathy might cause no symptoms or only mild problems, it can lead to serious problems as the condition progresses.

If you were diagnosed with diabetes before getting pregnant, or have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, schedule a complete eye examination with your optometrist. They have the equipment to look for damage to the blood vessels in your eyes, monitor your condition and provide the healthcare professionals involved in your pregnancy with assistance.

Collaborate with your optometrist

If you are pregnant and experiencing a change in your vision, no matter how small, let your optometrist know. Collaboration is the by-word of a healthy pregnancy and only an in-person, comprehensive eye exam can determine if the eye problems you are experiencing are harmless and temporary, or a sign of something more serious.

As you embark on your new adventure, you can count on us to provide the level of eye health care that you, and your baby, expect and deserve.

This website does not provide medical advice.  It is intended for informational purposes only.  It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment.  If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately dial Triple 0 (000).

How pregnancy affects your eyes
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