Study Finds Women Who Have Hypertensive Disorders during Pregnancy at Greater Risk for Blinding Disease

May 09, 2019 2:00 PM

A new study by researchers from the John A. Moran Eye Center’s Sharon Eccles Steele Center for Translational Medicine suggests women who experienced hypertensive disorders during pregnancy are at greater risk for a blinding eye disease.

Using the Utah Population Database to examine the records of 31,454 women, the study found mothers who experienced preeclampsia/eclampsia, hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelets syndrome, and gestational hypertension during pregnancy were 20 percent more likely to develop neovascular age-related macular degeneration later in life. They were also 80 percent more likely to develop the disease, in which blood vessels grow under the retina and rupture, before age 70.

Hypertensive disorders during pregnancy are already known to increase a woman’s risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. But the new findings, if confirmed by additional studies, suggest doctors should add regular comprehensive eye exams to a woman’s list of preventative care.

While there is no cure for neovascular AMD, injections can slow down blood vessel growth. Early detection of the disease can also preserve as much sight as possible.

The study, Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy Increase the Risk of Developing Neovascular Age-Related Macular Degeneration in Later Life, appeared in Hypertension in Pregnancy in April. Its authors are:

vision research