Hormonal Birth Control and Vision Problems

In a recent article published at Birth Control Problems? The Eyes Have It – Hormones Matter the author Mike Gaskins, writes about hormonal birth control’s contribution to eye problems.

He highlighted a 2013 study including  3,500 women over the age of 40 and found that those who had used hormonal birth control for three years or longer more than doubled their risk of developing glaucoma.

The possible explanation for the increased risk of glaucoma in hormonal contraception users is the estrogen deficiency created by synthetic estrogen. The natural hormonal rise and fall in a specific pattern are suppressed by the constant levels of artificial estrogen, affecting the intraocular pressure. Also, estrogen deficiency causes premature aging of the optic nerve.

Another report in this article is related to changes in the retina. Women who took oral contraceptives for a year had a thinner retinal nerve fiber layer, ganglion cell layer, and choroid. The researchers wrote in their paper. “It is important to find out when these thickness alterations can be clinically significant or symptomatic and if these changes are reversible or not.”

The author also explored evidence of other eye problems in hormonal contraceptive users. A study from 1997 showed that women 35 years and younger who took oral contraceptives had an increased risk of Retinal Vascular Occlusion.

The article concludes that women who use hormonal birth control should have a comprehensive eye evaluation with routine imagen exams. How many health care providers are considering a patient’s ocular personal history before prescribing hormonal birth control for contraception or other reasons?


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