An eye on pre-eclampsia

Mothers who experience pre-eclampsia during pregnancy found to have a higher risk of retinal disease in later life


Regular ocular screening of mothers diagnosed with pre-eclampsia may be warranted after Canadian researchers discovered a link between the condition and the later development of retinal disorders. 

The researchers analysed the data of more than 1.1 million women in Quebec who had delivered a baby between 1989 and 2013 for any history of later hospitalisation and inpatient procedures.

Women with pre-eclampsia were more likely to develop a retinal detachment, retinopathy or another retinal disorder than the women with no history of the pregnancy complication.

The risk of retinal disease was particularly high in the women who experienced severe or early-onset pre-eclampsia, according to the paper published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynaecology.

In the paper, the authors noted that previous studies have discovered that pre-eclampsia can have long-term effects, notably a higher risk of cardiovascular and renal disease.

Quebec Public Health Expertise and Reference Centre scientist, Dr Nathalie Auger, emphasised to OT that: “We feel confident in the association we found between pre-eclampsia and later retinal disease. We recommend screening for women who are at particular risk.”

She explained that a number of independent studies with similar conclusions were typically required for health associations to make an official recommendation for screening, and highlighted that more work was therefore required.

“Also, research is needed to determine if screening would be effective,” she added.