Aims: To determine the progression of diabetic retinopathy in pregnant women with diabetes offered tight glycaemic and blood pressure control.
Methods: A prospective study of 102 (87%) out of 117 consecutive pregnant women with Type 1 diabetes for median 16 years (range 1-36) and HbA(1c) 6.7% (4.9-10.8) in early pregnancy. Fundus photography was performed at 8 and 27 weeks. Retinopathy was classified in five stages. Diabetic macular oedema was classified as present in a mild form or as clinically significant macular oedema (CSMO). Progression was defined as at least one stage of deterioration of retinopathy and/or development of macular oedema in at least one eye. Sight-threatening progression was defined as loss of visual acuity>or=0.2 on Snellen's chart or laser treatment performed during pregnancy due to proliferative retinopathy or CSMO.
Results: Diabetic retinopathy was present at inclusion in at least one eye in 64 (63%) women and proliferative retinopathy and macular oedema were present in nine and 16 women, respectively. Progression of retinopathy occurred in 28 (27%) women. Sight-threatening progression occurred in six women; in three, visual acuity deteriorated and four required laser treatment. Sight-threatening progression was associated with presence of macular oedema (P=0.007), impaired visual acuity (P=0.03) and higher blood pressure (P=0.016) in early pregnancy, but not with HbA1c, decline in HbA1c, or prevalence of severe hypoglycaemia.
Conclusions: Loss of visual acuity and the need for laser treatment during diabetic pregnancy remain clinical problems associated with presence of macular oedema, visual impairment and higher blood pressure in early pregnancy.