• Does Pre-Eclampsia During Pregnancy Increase Risk to Mothers’ Eyes?

    Written by: Reena Mukamal
    Reviewed by: Rebecca J Taylor MD
    Feb. 14, 2017

    A study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests that pre-eclampsia may be associated with retinal disease in the mother later in life. Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and large amounts of protein in the urine. According to this study, more severe and earlier-onset pre-eclampsia was associated with even higher risk. 

    The American Academy of Ophthalmology has concerns about the way this research was conducted and its conclusions. At the moment there is no reason to suggest any change to eye health care for pregnant women or follow-up care for women who have had pre-eclampsia in the past.

    Pregnancy can cause temporary changes in vision for mothers including dry eye and slight near-sightedness. Pre-eclampsia, which occurs in 3 to 5 percent of pregnant women, can result in significant eye changes such as retinal disease and even retinal detachment.  

    The American Academy of Ophthalmology’s recommendations are unchanged: Expectant mothers or those with a history of pre-eclampsia should be aware of changes in their vision and contact their doctor if they have concerns. Retinal disease may be signaled by symptoms including:

    • blurred vision
    • spots in vision or areas that are black or gray
    • flashes of light
    • loss of color vision
    • loss of central or side vision
    • curtain or shadow over vision
    • complete loss of vision

    All women should get a baseline eye exam from an ophthalmologist by age 40. Women with diabetes should be examined yearly for retinal and other ocular disease, regardless of age. Your ophthalmologist may also recommend an examination schedule based on the specifics of your case.