Seeing Double: Blurred Vision In Pregnancy

14/08/2014 16:50 | Updated 22 May 2015

Blurred vision in pregnancy

You'd think that at a time when you need to be even more careful than normal not to walk into things, your eyes would behave themselves. But no - pregnancy hormones can affect everything, even your vision.

What is it?

Many women experience changes to their vision when they are pregnant and for most, these changes are temporary and not at all serious. In some cases, however, issues with your sight could signify more serious pregnancy-related problems, so it's important to know what's considered normal and safe, and what is not. One common symptom, where eyes are concerned, is dryness. Despite the fact you might feel like crying all the time (!), you may have fewer tears to shed. While eye dryness is not a big problem, it can be irritating, especially if you use contact lenses.

Pregnancy hormones are also responsible for actual changes to your sight. In the same way they cause you to retain water around your body, perhaps in your ankles and legs, they can also cause your eyes to retain extra fluid. In turn, this can slightly increase the thickness of your cornea, and even minor changes there can result in distorted or blurry vision.

What can I do?

If you are suffering from very dry eyes, and they are getting sore, you can use an eye lubricant - but do speak to the pharmacist and tell him or her that that you are pregnant. Some eye drops are not suitable to use with contact lenses, so if in doubt, ask your optician.

If your vision has changed just slightly, you can probably live with it as long as it is not causing you any problems - once your baby is born all should return to normal. If you have noticed a more significant change to your vision (walking into things, missing steps etc, are ill-advised when expecting!), speak to your GP - they will talk to you to check your eye symptoms are normal.

While you could go and get yourself some reasonably priced glasses for the duration of your pregnancy, if they'd help you read or get about safely, it's generally not a good idea to get fitted for new contact lenses or, even more drastic, go and get yourself lasered, because the chances are that your vision will start behaving itself again soon after your baby arrives.

What else could it be?

It's very important to be aware of what are probably normal disruptions to vision, and what are not.

One serious complication of pregnancy is pre-eclampsia - and blurred vision is one of the telltale signs. You may also experience flashing lights, or brief loss of vision. These symptoms might be accompanied by swelling in the face and hands, headaches and nausea or vomiting. Be aware that pre-eclampsia does not necessarily present with ALL of these symptoms, so if you suspect it at all, go and get yourself checked, because it needs to be diagnosed as soon as possible.

Blurred vision can also be a symptom of gestational diabetes. If you have diabetes before becoming pregnant, your blood sugar levels should be very closely monitored, but it is possible to develop diabetes when pregnant, despite never having had it previously.

If your midwife thinks you are at risk of developing gestational diabetes, she will test you during your second trimester with blood tests, and also possibly by checking for sugar in your urine, all during your normal antenatal appointments. If you start experiencing blurred vision as well as excessive thirst, tiredness and a constant need to wee, gestational diabetes could be the culprit. However, not all of the symptoms will necessarily be present.

If in doubt, if the changes to your vision are worrying you, go to see your GP or midwife and let them reassure you.

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