Menu

Blurred vision in pregnancy? What you need to know, mama

What causes it, and how to make it better.

blurred-vision-pregnancy

As I sit in front of my computer to type this, I find myself edging closer and closer to the monitor, squinting through my glasses to focus on the letters streaking across the white plane before me. I've always had subpar vision—I started wearing glasses when I was 10 years old, but I've never had to struggle through the haze in my eyes as I do now. With two weeks left to go in my pregnancy, my vision is worse than ever.

I'm not alone. Up to 15% of women notice their vision blurring as early as 10 weeks into their pregnancy. The culprit? Those pesky pregnancy hormones.

FEATURED VIDEO

Not only do they throw off your emotions, but you're also faced with changes in many of your bodily functions. From nausea and vomiting, food cravings, newfound clumsiness and lack of depth perception to your aching joints and fuzzy eyesight, hormones can cause a number of new problems.

What causes vision changes during pregnancy?

Hormones are chemicals that send messages to control different tissues throughout the body to trigger various processes in an organism. There's an enormous variety of them, each with its own function.

During pregnancy, a woman's ovaries work overtime to increase levels of sex hormones, like estrogen and progesterone. The primary female sex hormone, estrogen, affects everything from bone formation and lung function to enhancing and developing the hormone-producing glands in both mom and baby.

Its trusty sidekick progesterone, the main pregnancy hormone, aids in the growth and preparation of breasts for lactation, strengthening the uterine lining, and promoting the healthy operation of the placenta—the primary support system of the developing fetus. These chemicals enter the bloodstream and bind to receptors within various organ systems in the body, causing many physiological changes.

This includes not only the reproductive organs but also the central nervous system and, you guessed it, the eyes. With an influx of hormones, fluid buildup and increased pressure within the eyeball, it can lead to hazy vision.

As the rest of your body swells, so does the cornea, which is the transparent lens that covers the iris (the colorful part of your eye), the pupil (that abyss in the middle of your eye), and the anterior chamber (the liquid separating the iris and cornea). The cornea aids in bending light. As corneas thicken, they begin to curve, and the way they bend visual images into the eye changes. This is why doctors may recommend contact lens wearers switch to glasses during pregnancy, as the curvature makes it so that their lenses no longer fit around their eyeballs properly.

Does pregnancy cause dry eyes?

You may find that your eyes have turned into dry desert wastelands during your pregnancy. This is because increasing hormones cause a decrease in tear production as they disrupt cell function in the lacrimal glands of the eyes. This zaps away much-needed lubrication, also contributing to the haziness and irritation.

Are migraines in pregnancy related to vision changes?

Migraines are another cause of visual suffering in pregnancy, often erupting in pregnancy's final throes. As stress and discomfort build in those final weeks, the stress hormone cortisol, along with the sex hormones, surge, elevating the pressure in the brain and other parts of the body. The resulting migraines can sometimes cause visual disturbances such as flashing lights, zigzag lines, blind spots or temporary loss of vision.

Of note, it is really important to report any of these symptoms to your healthcare provider right away, as they could also be caused by a serious medical condition that requires prompt treatment (such as preeclampsia or a blood clot). See below for more.

Vision changes and preeclampsia

Blurred vision, sensitivity to light, flashing lights, spots, floaters, double vision and temporary blindness may all be symptoms of preeclampsia, a high blood pressure condition that affects 3-5% of all pregnancies. The Preeclampsia Foundation says these changes may be caused by irritation of the central nervous system or brain swelling as blood pressure inflates the body like helium in a balloon. Thankfully, eye damage is usually limited. Upon resolving high blood pressure, vision typically returns to normal.

Vision changes and gestational diabetes

Similarly, people with diabetes (chronic or gestational) are also susceptible to vision changes in pregnancy. Those with diabetes—a condition where the pancreas is unable to properly secrete the hormone insulin to control blood sugar levels in the body—are at risk of diabetic retinopathy.

High blood sugar levels in the blood damage the tiny blood vessels that supply the retina, the innermost layer of the eye's shell that translates light into messages for your brain to interpret. This damage results in abnormal growth of new blood vessels along the retina, which sometimes leads to bleeding or fluid leakage into the retina, causing blurred vision and sometimes significant permanent vision loss.

Diabetic retinopathy doesn't only affect women with a previous history of diabetes. About 2% of women develop gestational diabetes when the body cannot produce enough insulin to meet extra needs in pregnancy. Blood sugar returns to normal after birth in about 95% of cases, but are at higher risk of developing Type II diabetes later in life.

Any type of diabetic should have at least one thorough eye exam during pregnancy.

How can I treat my vision changes during pregnancy?

Although a woman's vision deteriorates in numerous ways over the forty weeks of her pregnancy, healthcare providers are unlikely to take any steps to fix vision issues unless they are severe. Within a few months of giving birth or halting breastfeeding, hormones stabilize and vision returns to normal. Providers advise that corrective lens prescriptions should not be replaced until after pregnancy since vision changes are usually temporary.

Since medical treatment is limited, a few natural methods can aid in improving these impairments, including:

  • Take occasional breaks from your computer screen.
  • Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including:
    • Fish
    • Flaxseeds
    • Walmnuts
    • Dark, leafy greens
  • Taking supplements to help relieve symptoms, promote retinal function, reduce eye inflammation, and sharpen visual acuity, or clarity.

While personal measures to improve these nuisances might be hit and miss, they teach us patience—a quality I've learned through my firstborn is much needed for when these mini versions of ourselves make their appearances and require our constant time and attention. And, of course, our moans and groans will dissolve into laughter and gentle coos, and it will all be worth it in the end.

But until then, I can't wait to get this baby out of me so that I can see again.

You might also like:

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Life

Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

Keep reading Show less
Life