BACKGROUND : The retinal microcirculation provides a unique view of microvessel structure by means of non-invasive, retinal image analysis. The aim of the study was to compare the retinal vessel caliber at delivery and one-year post-partum between women who have had pre-eclampsia during pregnancy to a normotensive control group.
METHODS : Digital photos of the eye were taken at delivery and one-year post-partum. Retinal vessels were analysed and summarised as the corrected central retinal arteriolar equivalent and corrected central retinal venular equivalent.
RESULTS : The corrected central retinal arteriolar equivalent and corrected central retinal venular equivalent were significantly lower in the pre-eclamptic group compared to the control group both at delivery and one-year post-partum (p < 0.001).
CONCLUSION : Retinal artery and venular caliber changes that occur during pregnancies affected by pre-eclampsia persist for up to one-year post-partum. These changes may reflect a permanent, long-term microvascular dysfunction and may be useful as a biomarker of future vascular risk.