Improving the care of pregnant women with diabetic eye disease

Today is World Diabetes Day.


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This year’s theme is Family and Diabetes because Diabetes Concerns Every Family. The aim is to raise awareness of the impact that diabetes has on the family and to promote the role of the family in the management, care, prevention and education of the condition.

1 in 2 people with diabetes (212 million people) remain undiagnosed. Diabetes can have serious health complications, including blindness. On World Diabetes Day, CERA is urging people with diabetes to remember to take care of their eyes. Could you spot the warning signs in your family? Learn more about World Diabetes Dayand what you can do to support your family members with diabetes.

2 out of 5 women with diabetes are in the reproductive age. We spoke with CERA PhD student, Dr Felicia Widyaputri, supervised by CERA Principal Investigator Associate Professor Lyndell Lim, to learn more about why it’s important for women in their pregnancy to remember to take care of their eyes, and how Dr Widyaputri’s research is helping to improve the care of pregnant women with diabetic eye disease.

Tell me about your research at CERA. 


My research is in the area of diabetic retinopathy (DR) in pregnant women with pre-existing diabetes (type 1 or 2 diabetes). DR is a leading cause of blindness in the working-age population, which also coincides with the reproductive age. DR may develop or even worsen during pregnancy, causing vision loss that has serious implications for the mother and her family. My PhD project aims to determine the number of pregnant women with pre-existing diabetes who are affected by this blinding eye disease. I am also testing a novel imaging technique which can predict DR progression that is safe to perform during pregnancy, so we can prevent blindness.

Why is it important for women with diabetes who are pregnant to think about their eye health?


Women who have pre-existing diabetes during pregnancy are at risk of developing irreversible visual impairment. This can only be prevented if they attend routine diabetic eye screening examinations during pregnancy, to detect and treat disease before it is too late.

What can women do to take better care of their eye health?


It is recommended for pregnant women with pre-existing diabetes to have screening eye checks at least once in each trimester, especially when they already have DR before their pregnancy.

I have seen how hard pregnancy is for women who have diabetes, as they have a number of appointments on top of the everyday responsibility of blood glucose monitoring. Getting a routine diabetic eye screening is very important during pregnancy. Because nothing is better than seeing your baby grow.

On World Diabetes Day, CERA is urging people with diabetes to remember to take care of their eyes. Make sure to book your eye test and remind your family members to do the same.

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