Breastfeeding and Eye Dilation

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The last couple of posts I’ve shared have been about my scary experience recently with diabetic retinopathy.  Luckily, it wasn’t as scary as the first doctor made me think but I still have moderate diabetic retinopathy. I went from having perfect eyes to essentially having stage 2 out of 4 on the retinopathy scale.  I wondered how it could have advanced so quickly.

The last eye exam where my eyes were dilated was in 2013 and my eyes looked great.  I had gone 20 years without diabetes affecting my eyes (woohoo!).  Last year, in 2014, I was pregnant and the doctor wouldn’t dilate my eyes because of the pregnancy.  He did look at my eyes and thought they looked fine, but without being able to actually dilate, it was hard to tell if any changes had occurred.

When my vision problems started in April, I went to the doctor immediately but because I am breastfeeding, they initially didn’t want to dilate.  However, once I described my issue, the doctor decided to go ahead and dilate.

The issue with dilating while breastfeeding is that the medicine used to dilate eyes hasn’t been tested on breastfeeding mothers.  There are no studies to show if it can cause adverse affects or not.  Because of the seriousness of my eye condition, the doctor thought that the pros for dilating my eyes (possibly catching a serious condition before I go blind) outweighed the negative affects (unknown affects on my milk/baby).

The medicine used was phenylephrine and tropicamide.  When I got home from the doctor’s office, I quickly took to Google.  Not much information is listed on either drugs.  The main side effect seems to be a decrease in milk supply but that isn’t really substantiated with many (i.e. any) studies. Tropicamide is a Pregnancy Category C drug meaning that animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse affect but no adequate studies have been done in humans.

Since Google didn’t put my mind at ease, I called my lactation consultant.  Bless her heart, she spent about an hour researching for me and came up with nothing.  She couldn’t find any information on whether or not there is any risk to my son from breastfeeding him after having my eyes dilated.  So my final step was to call the pediatrician.  He didn’t seem concerned at all about the drugs so that was comforting.

It was frustrating that there wasn’t any concrete evidence on the use of the drugs while breastfeeding but I understand not wanting to take the risk.  I was still a little apprehensive about having my eyes dilated but I also don’t want to go blind.

In the end, I decided to give my son a bottle at his next feeding and waited until the drugs wore off (supposedly 5-6 hours) before I fed him again.  I did feed him that night so I guess if anyone wants to count me in for a study, I can let you know in a few years how my son turned out!

So far he seems OK!

So far he seems OK!


4 thoughts on “Breastfeeding and Eye Dilation

  1. I am curious about something … Is it safe to assume that you managed to keep your A1C below 7 during the pregnancy? Did you suddenly have your A1C rise precipitously after your beautiful little boy was born? Perhaps doctors don’t know all they need to with regard to what, exactly, causes diabetic retinopathy.

    • Yes, my A1C was 5.5 during pregnancy and after it went up to 6.1 so not too much higher but definitely some. I agree, I’m thinking there is definitely more to learn about pregnancy, A1Cs and retinopathy!

  2. I just had my eyes dilated with the Tropicamide as well and I went to google and nothing . My appointment was at 9am I gave in and fed him for about 5 minuets at around 6pm and he fell asleep on his own around 7:30 pm . I freaked because at first I googled eyes dilated while breastfeeding and baby bump said it was ok and then I read that it depended on what they used . So of course I start calling the nurse hotline and they couldn’t answer wether it was ok or not . My Baby seems fine considering I only fed him once :/

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