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How Birth Control Pills May Affect Your Eyes



Birth control pills may help you prevent pregnancy. But did you know that these pills are being linked to the development of glaucoma?


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A recent study, conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, Duke University, and Third Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, suggests that women who have taken pills for more than three years are twice as likely to suffer from glaucoma.


Glaucoma is one of leading causes of blindness in the world. It occurs when the fluid inside the eye does not drain properly. The eye pressure then increases and damages the optic nerve, leading to permanent vision loss. Adults and children can suffer from it, especially if they have risk factors, such as increased eye pressure, a family history of glaucoma, and racial background – Asians are more susceptible to primary angle closure type of glaucoma.


The study included 3,406 women over 40 years old who completed vision and reproductive health questionnaire and underwent eye check-ups. According to the researchers, it has been found that low-estrogen levels due to menopause contribute to glaucoma. Estrogens are believed to protect the eyes from deteriorating because of old age. And the years of using pills can lower the estrogen levels in the eyes.


Women, on the other hand, are not discouraged from using birth control pills. The finding shows that the long-term use of these pills may be a potential risk factor for glaucoma. Likewise, the risk of getting glaucoma over the age of 40 increases that is why women are strongly advised to monitor their eye health.


Asian Eye glaucoma specialist and immediate past president of the Philippine Glaucoma Society, Dr. Maria Imelda Yap Veloso, emphasizes the importance of eye check-ups, “Most glaucoma cases don’t have symptoms, so it is best that you undergo regular eye check-ups with your ophthalmologist. If you have been taking pills and you have other risk factors, get your eyes screened,” she adds, “Early diagnosis and treatment is key to preventing vision loss due to glaucoma.”



Author: Charizze Henson 

Contributed by: Kareena Mirpuri, Asian Eye Institute 
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