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How will glaucoma medications affect my baby?

It is important to realize that any glaucoma medication may affect the fetus. Unfortunately, there is very little human data on the use of glaucoma eye drop medications during pregnancy. For most medications, risk cannot be ruled out. It is important to discuss your glaucoma treatments with your health care team.

When using eye drops, you can minimize the absorption of the medication into your bloodstream by gently pressing on the inside corner of the eye. Glaucoma medications, like many medications, are systemic, which means that they not only affect your eyes, but can travel through the rest of your body as well. By practicing this technique, you minimize the amount of medication that could cross the placenta or get into your breast milk.

One option for women with more advanced glaucoma who plan to become pregnant is laser eye surgery. Selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) and argon laser trabeculoplasty (ALT) are safe, non-medical glaucoma treatments, with pressure-lowering benefits that may allow for discontinuation of glaucoma drops during pregnancy.

Whenever possible, it’s best to address treatment options before becoming pregnant. With proper planning, surgery such as trabeculoplasty can be performed in anticipation of stopping or slowing progression of glaucoma during pregnancy.

Concerns about glaucoma medications should not end with delivery of the baby. If you want to nurse your baby, consider that glaucoma medications, like other medications, can be passed on through breast milk. For example, beta blocker medications actually concentrate in breast milk, and should be avoided if possible by nursing mothers

Last reviewed on August 23, 2012

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