Month two Q&A

Your Pregnancy - - Contents - Inge Loub­ser Op­tometrist

Q:I’m a di­a­betic and just found out I’m two months preg­nant. Of course, my gy­nae­col­o­gist will be watch­ing me like a hawk, but I also feel the need for some spe­cial­ist ad­vice on my eye­sight, as I know that this can also be af­fected.

A:Inge an­swers: High blood sugar lev­els as­so­ci­ated with di­a­betes can cause dam­age to the small blood ves­sels in the eye’s retina and cause them to bleed or leak fluid. The risk of this con­di­tion, called di­a­betic retinopa­thy, in­creases dur­ing preg­nancy and is the most com­mon cause of vi­sion loss among peo­ple with di­a­betes. The body pro­duces a lot of hor­mones dur­ing preg­nancy and can oc­ca­sion­ally cause in­sulin re­sis­tance where the body can’t pro­duce enough in­sulin to reg­u­late sugar. If preg­nant women ex­pe­ri­ence blurred vi­sion or ex­ces­sive thirst, they should be tested for di­a­betes. A tem­po­rary form of di­a­betes can oc­cur dur­ing preg­nancy and this may also lead to blurred vi­sion. If you are di­a­betic, fre­quent eye check-ups dur­ing preg­nancy are nec­es­sary. This will de­tect any changes that might oc­cur and may be treated right away to pre­vent blind­ness. There are ad­di­tional ar­eas of the eye that could be dam­aged by di­a­betes: • Retina – the tis­sue that lines the in­side of the eye and con­verts in­com­ing light to a vis­ual “mes­sage” via the op­tic nerve to the brain. • Lens – the lens of the eye is trans­par­ent and sits be­hind the iris (coloured part of the eye). It helps to fo­cus light on the retina. • Vit­re­ous fluid – the trans­par­ent, colour­less mass that fills the space be­tween the lens and retina. • Op­tic nerve – it con­nects the eye to the brain and car­ries vis­ual mes­sages from the retina to your brain and from your brain to the eye mus­cles. There­fore, if you have di­a­betes and are plan­ning to get preg­nant, you should have a com­pre­hen­sive eye ex­am­i­na­tion with your op­tometrist and dis­cuss di­a­betic reti­nal prob­lems. If you are di­a­betic and preg­nant, a com­pre­hen­sive eye ex­am­i­na­tion is rec­om­mended dur­ing the first trimester or as soon as pos­si­ble. If you start to de­velop di­a­betes dur­ing preg­nancy, there is not an in­creased risk of reti­nal prob­lems, un­less your di­a­betes con­tin­ues af­ter your preg­nancy. Preg­nant women with high blood pres­sure can be at risk of pre-eclamp­sia, a se­ri­ous con­di­tion that can put both the mother and baby at risk. In ad­di­tion to high blood pres­sure, if preg­nant women ex­pe­ri­ence any blurred vi­sion, sen­si­tiv­ity to bright light or loss of vi­sion, they should con­sult their doc­tor im­me­di­ately. Al­ways let your op­tometrist know if you’re preg­nant or breast­feed­ing dur­ing an eye ex­am­i­na­tion. In cer­tain cases, your op­tometrist may avoid us­ing di­lat­ing eye drops or other tests. Some of the chem­i­cals in eye drops that are used to di­late the eyes can be ab­sorbed into the breast­milk.

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