Maine patients with diabetes should be aware that diabetic retinopathy can be a real threat during pregnancy. “Diabetic retinopathy can progress very quickly during pregnancy, with potentially serious outcomes for the mother,” says Jackie Nguyen, M.D., a Maine Vitreoretinal Specialist, at Eyecare Medical Group in Portland, ME. “It is important that pregnant women with diabetic retinopathy be watched closely by their ophthalmologists” added Scott M. Steidl, M.D., Vitreoretinal Specialist at Eyecare Medical Group.
A study published in the February 2012 issue of Retina Today, “The Effect of Pregnancy on Diabetic Retinopathy” identified four factors that influence the rate and progression of diabetic retinopathy (DR) during pregnancy. These factors include having worse metabolic control at the time of conception, more severe DR at the time of conception, a longer duration of diabetes mellitus prior to pregnancy, and coexisting hypertension. All of these factors lead to a higher risk of progression or development of diabetic retinopathy. The study also showed that the development of preeclampsia increased a woman’s chances of progressive DR. Although mild cases of diabetic retinopathy can regress postpartum, it is important to continue to monitor the patient after the pregnancy even if the retinopathy appears to have slowed or stopped. Treatment is available for pregnant women with diabetic retinopathy but it is limited as the use of anti-VEGF medications can be potentially harmful to the fetus. Panretinal photocoagulation, or PRP laser treatment, is the recommended course of action, and it is recommended that PRP treatment be used as soon as clinically possible to avoid further complications or progression of the disease later.
If you are diabetic or suffer from diabetic retinopathy and are thinking about becoming pregnant, it is important to consult with your team of physicians including your obstetrician and ophthalmologist for suggested treatment of existing diabetic eye conditions. For questions, please call Eyecare Medical Group at 1-888-374-2020.
Eyecare Medical Group is a leading ophthalmology practice in Portland, Maine staffed by a team of eye care specialists including eye doctors who are fellowship trained glaucoma specialists, retina specialists, cornea specialists and cataract and lens implant specialists-all board certified Ophthalmologists-as well as Optometrists, Opticians, technical and administrative staff who provide eye examinations for adults and children, cataract treatment including cataract surgery and intraocular lens implants, (IOL), laser vision correction such as LASIK, diagnosis and treatment of cornea disease including cornea transplants, care for diseases of the retina including diabetes and age related macular degeneration and diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma.