Pregnancy brings about many changes in your body, including your vision. You may experience blurry vision, dry eyes, and other common eye problems during this time. Understanding the impact pregnancy can have on your eyes is key to managing any changes. In this article, learn what to expect with your eyes and vision during pregnancy. Discover tips to relieve dry, irritated eyes and properly care for contact lenses. See why it's critical to get regular eye exams throughout your pregnancy. Arm yourself with the knowledge you need to keep your eyes healthy during this transition. With a few adjustments and extra care, you can maintain clear vision and comfort even with a baby on the way.

eye health during pregnancy

Common Vision Changes During Pregnancy

Changes in Hormone Levels

During pregnancy, your estrogen levels increase dramatically which can cause fluid retention in the cornea and lens of the eye. This may lead to vision changes like blurred vision, difficulty focusing, or dry, irritated eyes. The good news is these changes are temporary and will resolve after delivery and hormone levels return to normal.

Eye Dryness and Irritation

Pregnancy also decreases tear production and causes changes in tear composition which often leads to dry, irritated eyes. Using over-the-counter eye drops formulated for dry eyes can provide relief from discomfort and keep your eyes lubricated. It's best to choose preservative-free drops when possible and use as directed. You should talk to your eye doctor before using any eye medication during pregnancy to ensure it's safe.

Impact on Contact Lens Wear

If you wear contact lenses, you may find them uncomfortable during pregnancy due to eye dryness and shape changes in the cornea. It's a good idea to discuss your lens wear with your eye doctor. They may recommend switching to daily disposable lenses, taking lens breaks, or transitioning to glasses for all or part of your pregnancy to keep your eyes comfortable and healthy.

The Importance of Eye Exams

Even if you experience no vision changes during pregnancy, regular comprehensive eye exams are important to monitor your eye health and the health of your baby. Undetected or untreated conditions like diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma can potentially impact your pregnancy and developing baby. Be sure to schedule a dilated eye exam early in your pregnancy and follow the exam schedule recommended by your eye doctor.

Managing Dry Eyes and Irritation

Eye Dryness and Irritation

During pregnancy, hormonal changes can decrease tear production, leading to eye dryness and irritation. Lubricating eye drops, warm compresses, and limiting screen time can provide relief. It's best to choose preservative-free eye drops approved for use during pregnancy to avoid any adverse effects.

Blurry Vision

Fluctuating hormone levels and fluid retention may temporarily impact your vision during pregnancy, causing blurriness or difficulty focusing. This typically resolves on its own after delivery and is not a cause for concern. However, if blurry vision is accompanied by other symptoms like spots, flashing lights, or loss of vision, consult your eye doctor right away as it can indicate a more serious condition requiring treatment.

Sensitivity to Light

Some women experience increased sensitivity to light, also known as photophobia, during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. Wearing sunglasses outdoors, using dim lighting indoors, and limiting screen time may provide relief from light sensitivity. The good news is this typically improves after the baby is born.

Changes in Contact Lens Tolerance

Pregnancy-related changes in corneal curvature and hydration can impact contact lens tolerance for some women. If your contact lenses start to feel uncomfortable, speak to your eye doctor about switching to daily disposable lenses or glasses until after delivery.

Should You Keep Wearing Contacts?

Many women who normally wear contact lenses wonder if it is safe to continue wearing them during pregnancy. The good news is, for most women contact lens wear does not need to be discontinued during pregnancy and is considered very low risk. However, some changes in your vision and eye health can occur during pregnancy that may require temporary contact lens changes or considerations.

Vision Changes May Require Lens Adjustments

Pregnancy hormones can cause changes in your vision, including increased nearsightedness. Your optometrist may need to re-examine your eyes and prescribe different contact lens powers to properly correct your vision. It is a good idea to inform your eye care professional as soon as you become pregnant so they can monitor any vision changes.

Increased Dryness and Irritation

Pregnancy can cause changes in tear production and increased eye dryness for some women. This may lead to contact lens discomfort and irritation. Use lubricating eye drops formulated for contact lens wearers and take breaks from contact lenses when possible. Be very diligent about proper lens care and hygiene to avoid eye infections.

Risk of Eye Infections Remains Low

When properly fitted and cared for, contact lens wear during pregnancy does not increase the risk of eye infections for most women. However, due to hormonal changes, pregnant women may be slightly more susceptible to eye infections like conjunctivitis (pink eye). See your eye doctor right away if you experience symptoms of an eye infection like eye redness, discharge, or vision changes.

Importance of Eye Exams During Pregnancy

Pregnancy causes many changes to a woman’s body, including possible changes to vision and eye health. Regular comprehensive eye exams during pregnancy are vital to monitoring visual function and managing any issues that may arise.

Vision Changes

Fluctuating hormone levels can impact vision in pregnant women. Common vision changes include increased nearsightedness, dry eyes, and trouble focusing. An eye exam can determine if any vision changes are temporary or require treatment like prescription eyeglasses or eye drops. Early diagnosis and management of vision changes helps ensure clear, comfortable vision throughout pregnancy and postpartum.

Eye Health Risks

Pregnancy also increases the risk of eye conditions like diabetic retinopathy in women with preexisting diabetes. High blood pressure during pregnancy (preeclampsia) can lead to vision problems if left untreated. Regular eye exams screen for these and other potential issues, allowing for timely treatment and prevention of vision loss.

Importance of Treatment

Any vision or eye health issues during pregnancy require specialized treatment to avoid risks to both mother and baby. Certain medications, eye drops, and procedures used to treat eye conditions may be contraindicated during pregnancy or require dosage adjustments. A comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist experienced in prenatal care helps determine appropriate, pregnancy-safe treatment and management of vision and eye health issues.

Postpartum Follow Up

Changes in vision and eye health issues that arise during pregnancy often continue for some time after delivery. Follow up eye exams postpartum monitor for any lingering or worsening issues, check for stabilization of vision changes, and determine if any treatment needs adjustment or discontinuation. Continuity of eye care before, during, and after pregnancy helps new mothers see clearly and stay healthy.

Protecting Your Eyes From Blue Light

Limit Screen Time

During pregnancy, your eyes become more sensitive and prone to dryness. Staring at digital screens for long periods can further irritate your eyes by exposing them to high amounts of blue light. Limit the time you spend looking at phones, tablets, laptops, and TVs when possible. Take frequent breaks to look away from the screen and focus on distant objects every 20 minutes or so. This helps reduce eye strain and gives your eyes a chance to produce more tears to keep them lubricated.

Use Blue Light Filtering Glasses

If limiting screen time is challenging due to work or other responsibilities, consider wearing blue light filtering glasses. These special glasses block out the highest energy wavelengths of blue light that can cause the most eye damage. Blue light filtering glasses are available in prescription and non-prescription options. They can help prevent dry, irritated eyes and reduce the risk of long-term damage to the retina from blue light overexposure.

Enable Night Mode and Blue Light Filters

Many digital devices now offer built-in blue light filters and night mode settings that reduce the amount of blue light emitted from the screen. Activate these features on your devices, especially in the evening. Less blue light exposure at night helps maintain your body's circadian rhythm and natural sleep-wake cycle. It may also decrease symptoms of digital eye strain like dryness, blurriness, and difficulty focusing.

Use Artificial Tears

If your eyes still feel dry, irritated, or fatigued despite limiting screen time and using blue light filters, apply over-the-counter artificial tears as needed to keep them lubricated. Look for drops that are formulated for eye dryness and contain lubricants like glycerin, hyaluronan, or polyethylene glycol. Use as directed to relieve discomfort and protect your eyes during pregnancy when hormonal changes often exacerbate symptoms of dry eye.

Nutrition Tips for Eye Health

To maintain eye health during pregnancy, focus on consuming a balanced diet with certain nutrients that specifically benefit your eyes.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that promote eye health and development. Foods high in omega-3s include fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. Aim for two to three servings of fatty fish per week. If you don’t eat fish, consider an algal oil supplement. Algal oil provides an alternative source of omega-3s for those avoiding seafood.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that support eye health. Egg yolks, spinach, kale, broccoli, and corn contain high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin. Try adding a few egg yolks or a cup of cooked spinach to your diet a few times a week.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and supports eye health. Citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, strawberries, and tomatoes are excellent sources of vitamin C. Most prenatal vitamins will contain vitamin C, but consuming vitamin C-rich foods in addition to your prenatal vitamin will provide greater benefits.


Zinc is essential for eye health and development. Oysters, beef, pumpkin seeds, cashews, chickpeas, and yogurt or milk contain zinc. Most prenatal vitamins contain zinc, but adding zinc-rich foods to your diet provides additional support.

Following these nutrition tips during pregnancy will help support your eye health and the healthy development of your baby’s eyes. Be sure to also stay hydrated, limit alcohol and caffeine intake, stop smoking, and attend regular eye exams to best manage your vision during this time. Your eye care professional can also provide tailored recommendations to meet your specific needs.

Exercising Your Eyes During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your eyes may experience changes that can lead to dryness, irritation, and fluctuating vision. While these symptoms are typically temporary, it is important to properly care for your eyes to promote eye health for both you and your baby.

Eye Rotations

Performing simple eye exercises can help reduce eye strain and keep your eyes flexible and strong. Eye rotations are gentle exercises where you slowly roll your eyes in circles, first in one direction and then the other. This helps lubricate your eyes and stimulates eye muscle movement.

Eye Palming

Eye palming involves gently cupping your hands over your closed eyes to promote relaxation. This exercise helps reduce eye strain and provides a soothing effect.

Blinking Exercises

Blinking exercises are also beneficial, as pregnancy hormones can cause decreased blinking. Make an effort to consciously blink fully and slowly, aiming for 10 to 15 blinks per minute. This helps spread tears across your eyes and reduces irritation.

Taking Breaks

Taking short breaks to look away from the screen or reading material can also help reduce eye strain during pregnancy. Focus on distant objects every 20 minutes or so. This gives your eyes a chance to relax and prevents them from locking into a fixed position for prolonged periods.

Using Over-the-Counter Eye Drops

Using over-the-counter eye drops for dryness and irritation may provide relief, but check with your doctor first, especially if you normally wear contact lenses. Artificial tears, gels, and ointments can help keep your eyes lubricated, while decongestant drops may reduce redness. Avoid any products containing decongestants, as these can raise blood pressure.

Regular Eye Exams

It is common for vision to fluctuate during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. Regular eye exams, especially in the second and third trimesters, can detect any significant vision changes. Your eye doctor may adjust or temporarily discontinue your contact lens prescription until after delivery and your vision stabilizes.

With extra care and management, most vision changes experienced during pregnancy will resolve on their own within 3 to 6 months after giving birth. However, see an ophthalmologist right away if you notice flashes of light, sudden vision loss, double vision, or other severe visual disturbances.

Roger Sarkis