As an optometrist, a question I commonly hear is “should I get my eyes examined while pregnant?” There are two concerns expecting mothers often have
1. Will my vision change due to my pregnancy?
2. Are the dilation drops safe to my unborn child?
To answer the first question: while vision can change during the course of pregnancy, the odds of that happening is fairly low. In my 15 years practicing optometry, I can say about 3% of patients who were pregnant at the time of their exam have needed to return for a follow-up to recheck and change the prescription.
Glasses and contact lenses are very easy to exchange. Even if the return rate was 25% I would prefer to change a prescription over risking a woman and her unborn child driving with blurry vision or over-wearing old contact lenses that might cause infection or inflammation.
We never want the fear of a possible prescription change to keep someone from updating their vision. Any patient of ours (pregnant or not) can get glasses remade or contact lenses exchanged at no charge if their prescription changes for any reason within 6 months of their exam.
With regards to getting your eyes dilated during pregnancy, I find there is no credible evidence to support that mydriatic (dilating) eye drops have ever caused any adverse affect to a developing fetus.
When we use topical drops to dilate the eye, there is little to no systemic absorption into the body. That is not to say there is none, but the amounts are so minute, that the benefits outweigh the risks. Dilation helps us to find any problems in the back of the eye that we can’t see without dilation in all patients.
I hope that answers some of your questions about getting your eye exam while pregnant. Please rest assured that we don’t take your pregnant condition lightly, nor do we want to ignore any eye changes we could only see with dilation. Medical care should involve an open dialogue between the patient and the doctor. Talk to your doctor about your care so both of you can agree on the care that makes you comfortable.