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Refractive changes in pregnancy



To determine the causes of any vision change reported during pregnancy.


An obstetrical practice in Southampton, New York.

Study population

Two hundred forty pregnant women were asked whether they had any alteration in vision. Those who agreed to take part in the study (83) and who complained of vision changes (12) were matched with the next patient seen in the practice who was asymptomatic.


All patients underwent a complete ophthalmic examination, including refraction. Those who had alterations in vision status were seen again after delivery.

Main outcome measures

Changes in visual acuity and refractive error during pregnancy.


All women who complained of visual changes were found to have experienced a myopic shift from pre-pregnancy levels. (0.87±0.3 diopters in the right eye (P<0.0001) and 0.98±0.3 diopters in the left eye (P<0.0001). Post partum, all subjects returned to near pre-pregnancy levels of myopia.


This report links worsening of myopia to pregnancy. The causes of this myopic shift are not readily evident and merit further investigation.

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The author would like to thank the staff of Hamptons Obstetrics and Gynecology for their invaluable assistance in this study. They include Drs. Hunt, Diaz, Murphy and Rolston as well as Ruth Lazars. He would also like to thank Jane Bender, Sandy Hiltner, Tracy Kohnken, Polly Stark, Kyra Viet and Janet Wright of Peconic Ophthalmology. In addition, Dr. Elizabeth Shane assisted in manuscript preparation.

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Correspondence to Louis D. Pizzarello.

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Pizzarello, L.D. Refractive changes in pregnancy. Graefe's Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol 241, 484–488 (2003).

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  • Myopia
  • Refractive Error
  • Post Partum
  • Corneal Thickness
  • Spherical Equivalent