This review aims to summarize existing information concerning visual disturbances in (pre) eclampsia that have been described in the literature. Preeclampsia is one of the leading causes of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality worldwide. Visual disturbances in (pre)eclampsia seem to be frequent phenomena. Therefore, the obstetrician/gynecologist may encounter women with serious, and sometimes debilitating, pathology of the visual pathways. Established ophthalmic entities associated with (pre)eclampsia are cortical blindness, serous retinal detachment, Purtscher-like retinopathy, central retinal vein occlusions, and retinal or vitreous hemorrhages. Ensuing visual symptoms include blurry vision, diplopia, amaurosis fugax, photopsia, and scotomata, including homonymous hemianopsia. In general, aside from lowering the blood pressure and preventing (further) seizures with magnesium sulfate, no specific therapy seems indicated for (pre)eclamptic women who experience visual changes. Although in most cases visual acuity returns to normal within weeks to months after the onset of symptoms, rarely permanent visual impairment can occur. Health care providers such as emergency room physicians, obstetricians, family physicians, neurologists, and ophthalmologists should be aware that acute onset of visual symptoms in pregnant women can be the first sign of (pre)eclampsia. Given that visual changes are a diagnostic criterion for severe preeclampsia, obstetricians should appreciate the significance of these changes and discuss appropriate diagnostic options with the ophthalmologist. Affected women can be reassured that most cases are transient.
Obstetricians and gynecologists, ophthalmologists, neurologists, family physicians, emergency room physicians
After completing this CME activity, obstetricians and gynecologists should be better able to classify visual disturbances at an early stage during pregnancy, interpret acute onset of visual disturbances as the first sign of preeclampsia, and evaluate possible residual visual symptoms during follow-up.