International Ophthalmology

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 989–997 | Cite as

Diabetic retinopathy and pregnancy

  • Nicola Pescosolido
  • Orazio Campagna
  • Andrea Barbato
Review Paper


Diabetes mellitus and pregnancy have reciprocal influences between them, therefore diabetes mellitus may complicate the course of pregnancy as well as pregnancy can worsen the performance of diabetes especially at the fundus oculi. Several factors seem to play a role in retinal neovascularization. Actually it’s not possible to understand the mechanisms underlying this progression. Moreover chronic hyperglycemia leads to several events such as: the activation of aldose reductase metabolic pathway, the activation of the diacylglycerol-protein kinase C, the non-enzymatic glycation of proteins with formation of advanced glycation endproducts and the increase of hexosamines pathway. Although every structure of the eye can be affected by diabetes, retinal tissue, with all its vessels, is particularly susceptible. Pregnancy may promote the onset of diabetic retinopathy, in about 10 % of cases, as well as contribute to its worsening when already present. The proliferative retinopathy must always be treated; treatment should be earlier in pregnant women compared to non-pregnant women. Pregnancy can also cause macular edema; it spontaneously regresses during the postpartum and therefore does not require immediate treatment. In summary, collaboration between the various specialists is primary to ensure the best outcomes for both mother’s health and sight, and fetus’ health.


Diabetes mellitus Diabetic retinopathy Hyperglycemia Pregnancy Oxidative stress 



Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicola Pescosolido
    • 1
  • Orazio Campagna
    • 2
  • Andrea Barbato
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Nephrology, Geriatric and Anesthesiology Science“Sapienza” University of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Sense Organs, Centre of Ocular Electrophysiology“Sapienza” University of RomeRomeItaly

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