External Disruption of Ocular Development in Utero

Yale J Biol Med. 2024 Mar 29;97(1):41-48. doi: 10.59249/RRMM8911. eCollection 2024 Mar.


The intricate steps of human ocular embryology are impacted by cellular and genetic signaling pathways and a myriad of external elements that can affect pregnancy, such as environmental, metabolic, hormonal factors, medications, and intrauterine infections. This review focuses on presenting some of these factors to recognize the multifactorial nature of ocular development and highlight their clinical significance. This review is based on English-language articles sourced from PubMed, Web of Science, and Google Scholar; keywords searched included "ocular development in pregnancy," "ocular embryology," "maternal nutrition," "ophthalmic change," and "visual system development." While some animal models show the disruption of ocular embryology from these external factors, there are limited post-birth assessments in human studies. Much remains unknown about the precise mechanisms of how these external factors can disrupt normal ocular development in utero, and more significant research is needed to understand the pathophysiology of these disruptive effects further. Findings in this review emphasize the importance of additional research in understanding the dynamic association between factors impacting gestation and neonatal ocular development, particularly in the setting of limited resources.

Keywords: Ocular development; embryology; eye; gestation; maternal nutrition; ocular malformations; ophthalmic change; pregnancy; visual change; visual system.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eye* / embryology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Exposure*
  • Pregnancy