CERA – Preserving sight in pregnancy

A CERA researcher’s PhD could help prevent sight loss during pregnancy in women with types 1 and 2 diabetes. Her research may also influence new government guidelines for this at-risk group.

Pregnant women with pre-existing diabetes are vulnerable to diabetic retinopathy which can cause severe vision loss or blindness if untreated.

Eye checks are essential to catch the disease before it advances and becomes difficult to treat.

A new study

Dr Felicia Widyaputri and her PhD supervisor, Associate Professor Lyndell Lim, hope the project will improve early detection.

Dr Widyaputri is also working with Universitas Gadjah Mada colleagues in Indonesia to monitor diabetes prevalence and eye care access in Jogjakarta’s pregnant women.

Dr Felicia Widyaputri and Associate Professor Lyndell Lim are investigating eye care for pregnant women with diabetes.

Health initiative

Australian guidelines recommend pregnant women with pre-existing diabetes have a comprehensive eye check in their first trimester, but Dr Widyaputri’s PhD discovered that less than 50 per cent do.

Her study developed advice on when and how often pregnant women with diabetes should have eye checks.

A medical doctor planning to specialise in ophthalmology, Dr Widyaputri worked at Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital and Mercy Hospital with 150 pregnant women who had pre-existing type 1 or 2 diabetes.

Their eyes were examined each trimester and when their baby was three months old, using a non-invasive imaging technique.

Funded by the Alfred Felton Bequest and the Australia-Indonesia Institute with some government support, the results could inform public health initiatives.