Ocular vascular changes during pregnancy: an optical coherence tomography angiography study

  • Pınar Bingöl KızıltunçEmail author
  • Bulut Varlı
  • Tuna Çelik Büyüktepe
  • Huban Atilla



Pregnancy is a period presenting with many physiological adaptation mechanisms. One of the structures in which these mechanisms are observed is ocular tissues. The cornea, lacrimal and meibomian glands, and chorioretinal complex are all among the structures affected by changes during pregnancy. In this study we aimed to evaluate the macular and optic disc vessel density (VD) changes by Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography (OCTA) imaging in pregnancy.


A total of 248 eyes from 124 pregnant women and 80 eyes from 40 healthy control women were involved. Vessel densities of macula were evaluated for superficial capillary plexus (SCP) and deep capillary plexus (DCP) in whole macula, foveal, parafoveal and perifoveal region. Peripapillary and whole optic disc VDs were also evaluated. Vessel densities of macula and optic disc were compared between control individuals and pregnant women. Vessel densities in different trimesters were also evaluated.


Modest but significant differences in VDs of whole macula of SCP and DCP were observed in pregnancy group. Additionally, perifoveal and parafoveal region of SCP, whole disc and radial peripapillary capillary VD were significantly higher in pregnancy group. There was no correlation between VD ratios of macula and optic disc and pregnancy weeks and trimesters.


This is the first study focusing on the OCTA parameters in pregnant individuals. These findings suggest that physiological changes during pregnancy are not limited to the cornea, eyelids and the choroid but also to the retinal and optic disc vasculature.


Estrogen Ocular blood flow Optical coherence tomography angiography Pregnancy Vessel density 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Author PBK declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author BV declares that he has no conflict of interest. Author TÇB declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author HA declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of OphthalmologyAnkara University School of Medicine, Vehbi Koç Eye BankAnkaraTurkey
  2. 2.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyAnkara University School of MedicineAnkaraTurkey

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