Glaucoma And Pregnancy

Posted on: 28 July 2015

When you're pregnant, many changes occur in your body. Some of these changes affect your vision. Besides causing physical changes to the eyes, pregnancy can affect existing eye conditions such as glaucoma. You also may have concerns about whether glaucoma medications you take can affect the baby growing inside you.

Changes in Intraocular Pressure

If you have glaucoma, hormonal changes may cause a decrease in intraocular pressure (fluid pressure inside the eye). This can lead to an improvement in your glaucoma while you are pregnant. Consequently, your eye doctor may be able to adjust your medication to a lower dose, decreasing any risks associated with the medication to your baby.

However, not all women experience a drop in intraocular pressure during pregnancy. Each woman's case is different. While there may be no change, you may experience an increase in the pressure in the eye, which can make your vision loss worse.

Effects of Medication During Pregnancy

Although the goal of treatment is to reduce intraocular pressure to prevent damage to the optic nerve, taking glaucoma medication during pregnancy has the potential to affect the developing fetus. While there are several different medications available to treat glaucoma, they all have side effects.

The first trimester of pregnancy is the most critical period in fetal development -- a time during which medications can interfere with your unborn baby's development and cause birth defects. Taking glaucoma medications is a concern, particularly during the first three months of pregnancy when your baby's organs, central nervous system, and bones are forming.

That's why it's important to let your eye doctor know that you are pregnant or trying to conceive. By informing your optometrist that you are planning to conceive, he or she may decide to adjust your medications before you become pregnant.

Depending on the severity of your glaucoma, your doctor may recommend going off your medication during the first trimester of pregnancy. Beta-blockers, prostaglandins, and carbonic anhydrase inhibitors are among the classes of medications used to treat glaucoma that should be avoided during the first three months of pregnancy if possible. If you continue taking them, they should be used with caution.

Your optometrist or ophthalmologist will carefully monitor any changes in eye pressure if you go off your medication. If fluid pressure inside the eye increases, you may need to resume taking medication, but at the lowest effective dose possible.

Since glaucoma medications can travel through your body, if your doctor prescribes the use of eye drops to lower the pressure inside the eye, gently press on the inside corner of your eye with your fingertip when administering eye drops. Known as nasolacrimal occlusion, the technique helps reduce the amount of medication that absorbs into your bloodstream and crosses the placenta.

Effects of Medication While Breastfeeding

Glaucoma medications can pass into breast milk; therefore, discuss with your eye doctor what your medication regimen will be even after your baby is born. When excreted into breast milk, some of the drugs used to treat glaucoma can cause breathing problems or low blood pressure in infants.

For more information, contact a group like North Central Eye Associates Inc.