Pregnancy is a very special period in a woman’s life. For nine months the body works for two, many organs and systems have to adapt to the new conditions and start functioning in a different way. Eyes are not an exception. Toxicosis and other complications of pregnancy may have their impact on the condition of eyesight. Woman’s body experiences hormonal alterations that may have different effects on different people. And your eyes are one of the systems in your body that are affected by these alterations.
Even women with normal eyesight are recommended to visit an ophthalmologist at least twice: during the 10th–14th week of pregnancy and closer to the end of the pregnancy, during the 34th–36th week. It is important since a final decision on the best way to give birth will depend on your condition in general and on the course of your pregnancy.
If you are planning your pregnancy or are already pregnant it is ESSENTIAL for you to undergo a comprehensive diagnostic testing including the obligatory examination of the ocular fundus and consultation of a retinologist.
How the delivery will go?
It is important that your ophthalmologist examines not only the optical system of your eye but also the condition of your retina. The problem is that the major threat to the condition of your eyes during pregnancy, labor and delivery is deterioration of the retina (degeneration or dystrophic changes). It is one of the most usual reasons that make a woman avoid natural childbirth and opt for the recommended Caesarean section.
Pregnancy and the retina
When deterioration of the retina takes place, central vision starts decreasing; this results in affected macula which is the most important retinal section. Retinal dystrophy is usually caused by vascular system abnormalities in the eye. Dystrophic changes in the retina often occur when a person has medium or high myopia.
However, there are cases when the condition of the retina is not dependent on the degree of myopia. For example, in high myopia, the condition of the retina keeps being satisfactory: there is no evidence of retinal pre-rupture and progressive dystrophic changes; in low myopia, within 1-3 diopters, dystrophic loci can be observed on the fundus of the eye.
That is why if a woman is pregnant she should have her retina thoroughly examined in order to make sure whether there are no dystrophic changes. It is necessary to keep your retina in good condition and take care that there are no hemorrhages and other pathological changes.
If during the eye check the ophthalmologist detects that a pregnant woman has some ruptures or rough dystrophic changes on the retina, prophylaxis laser photocoagulation is prescribed. This procedure is performed on an out-patient basis, without admission to hospital, and it takes several minutes. A laser beam strengthens the retina, preventing it from stretching and detachment. Please remember that if you have this easy retinal strengthening procedure performed in time, you will avoid complications during the childbirth.
Doctors recommend performing prophylaxis peripheral laser photocoagulation before the 35th week of pregnancy.
Factors that influence the development of the embryo’s visual system
To prevent your future child from having eye problems, you should secure favorable environment for the development of the baby’s eye structure, that is to possibly eliminate harmful factors that might affect your body and disrupt the development of your future baby’s eye tissues. These factors include smoking, and consuming alcohol especially during the first six months of your pregnancy.
Doctors also highly recommend to be cautious when using medicines, also especially during the first trimester of pregnancy. It is exactly the period when all the organs and systems of the baby start to form. We recommend you to consult with your ophthalmologist and have your eyes examined even if you are just going to use such harmless medicine as eye drops for relieving eye strain.