Type 1 or 2 diabetes and eye or kidney problems

There are two particular medical conditions associated with diabetes that can worsen during pregnancy: retinopathy (eye problems) and nephropathy (kidney problems).

Both are caused by damage to tiny blood vessels that can be affected by high blood glucose levels and high blood pressure. You will be checked at regular intervals before and through your pregnancy to make sure you are not developing these conditions. Ideally, you will checked before pregnancy to check your level and followed-up during pregnancy to make sure there aren’t any signs of changes that are a concern. If there are concerns, you may be referred to a specialist team.

Retinopathy

Is a condition that affects the blood vessels in your eyes, damaging the retina. It can worsen as a result of high blood glucose levels in early pregnancy and high blood pressure. If left untreated, it can cause blurred vision and, ultimately, blindness. Treatments include laser therapy. 

You’ll be offered screening tests for retinopathy at or soon after your first antenatal clinic visit, and also after 28 weeks. If signs of it are found at the first screening test, you’ll be offered an extra test between weeks 16 and 20.

If you are found to be at risk of serious eye problems, you’ll be referred to an eye specialist.

Nephropathy

Is another name for kidney disease. If your kidneys become damaged your body loses its ability to filter out waste products from your blood. If you have nephropathy in pregnancy, this may affect your blood pressure, which can lead to pre-eclampsia.

Sources

Read more about the effects of diabetes

More sections on type 1 or 2 diabetes in pregnancy

Last reviewed on September 1st, 2015. Next review date September 1st, 2017.

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