Uveitis and pregnancy: Advice from a Mayo Clinic expert

If you have uveitis, planning for a healthy pregnancy may require close collaboration with your ophthalmologist. Start talking with your doctor about potential medication adjustments well before you start trying to conceive.

If you have uveitis, a form of eye inflammation that affects the middle layer of eye tissue (uvea), talk with your doctor before planning a pregnancy. Uveitis, itself, doesn't affect your ability to conceive or to have a healthy child. However, some uveitis medications are associated with birth defects and other health problems in a developing fetus.

You may need to adjust your uveitis medications and give them time to clear out of your system before you start trying to conceive. And you're likely to need ongoing adjustments to your treatment plan both during and after your pregnancy.

In this interview, Alaina Softing Hataye, O.D., an optometrist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, explains what to expect — and what to discuss with your doctor — before you begin your journey toward pregnancy and parenthood.

Will pregnancy affect my uveitis symptoms?

It's likely that your symptoms will change — during pregnancy, possibly getting worse than they've been so far, and then getting better than they were before your pregnancy.

In general, hormonal changes influence the immune system, though not always predictably. In pregnancy, elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone often bring at least some relief from uveitis symptoms, especially during the second and third trimesters.

Your symptoms may increase at the beginning of your pregnancy. However, by your second trimester, you may notice symptoms improving or even disappearing, and this may last through the rest of your pregnancy.

April 11, 2017 See more In-depth