Diabetic Retinopathy

A complication of diabetes

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that causes damage to the blood vessels of the retina. Diabetic retinopathy can lead to poor vision and even blindness.

Symptoms and Causes

The primary cause of diabetic retinopathy is diabetes. Elevated blood sugar levels from diabetes can damage the small blood vessels that nourish the retina. When you have diabetic retinopathy, high blood pressure can make it worse. High blood pressure can cause more damage to the weakened vessels in your eye, clouding more of your vision. It is possible to have diabetic retinopathy for a long time without noticing symptoms. Often, diabetic retinopathy will cause symptoms unnoticeable to a patient until substantial damage already has occurred. Having your eyes checked regularly can find diabetic retinopathy early enough to treat it and help prevent vision loss.

Prevention and Treatment

You can lower your chance of damaging small blood vessels in the eye by keeping your blood sugar levels, cholesterol and blood pressure levels within a target range. If you smoke, quit. All of this reduces the risk of damage to the retina. It can also help slow down how quickly your retinopathy gets worse and can prevent future vision loss.

Surgery, laser treatment, or medicine may be done to prevent, treat, or reverse vision loss caused by diabetic retinopathy. You may need to be treated more than once as the disease gets worse. Discuss the options available with your doctor.