Many people undergo IVF – in Switzerland, approximately 6,000 IVF procedures are performed each year. IVF is performed by administering high doses of FSH – follicle stimulating hormone – to stimulate the ovaries to ovulate. The egg that’s produced is harvested, fertilized in the laboratory, and placed in the uterus with the intention of producing a successful pregnancy.
However, there is an increasing body of evidence that such a massive hormone influx can weaken the cornea – high levels of oestrogen are known to soften the cornea (and FSH stimulates oestrogen production). This can be a big problem if there’s already latent weakness in the cornea, like a “forme fruste” keratoconus – the hormone influx will cause the disease to manifest and become apparent, worsening vision.
A direct relationship between IVF and changes in the cornea is not yet known in humans, but it is known that high oestrogen levels, (the production of which is under the control of FSH) can weaken the cornea and alter vision. If you start see worse after an IVF procedure, then please visit a cornea specialist and get your corneal biomechanics tested.
If you have keratoconus and are about to undergo a round of IVF treatment, please do visit a corneal specialist beforehand, and discuss how regularly your cornea should be checked during the treatment cycle (and during pregnancy too).