Visual Changes During Pregnancy

Expectant mothers have often been told that their vision may change during pregnancy and that they should put off seeing their optometrist until after delivery. But nine months is a long time to go without seeing properly (and dangerous)!

In general, most women experience minimal to no visual symptoms throughout their pregnancy. Common minor vision changes include: dry eye symptoms, contact lens intolerance, difficulty focusing or reading for extended periods, or a change in one's eyeglass prescription. These prescription changes are usually the result of cornea edema (thickening) caused by normal fluid retention during pregnancy, and may reverse post pregnancy or can become permanent. Depending on the severity of your symptoms or vision changes, you may want to talk with your optometrist about treatment options or about updating your eyeglasses.  

More serious visual problems that should never be ignored include: blurred vision, halos around lights, headaches, neck pain, changes in colour perception, or distorted vision. Should you ever experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your optometrist as soon as possible and call your doctor. If you feel it is an emergency, then proceed directly to the hospital. These symptoms may be secondary to preeclampsia, which is a potentially serious condition caused by an elevation in blood pressure. These symptoms may also be related to a less serious medical condition called central serious chorioretinopathy, which is an inflammation of the central retina.

Special consideration should also be given to mothers with diabetes, as they require vision care throughout the duration of their pregnancy. It’s recommended that any mothers with diabetes receive a thorough dilated eye exam prior to conceiving as well as monthly to bi-monthly eye exams throughout the course of their pregnancy, depending on how well controlled her blood sugars are. These eye examinations are used to monitor visual fluctuations along with diabetic retinopathy.