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DIABETIC RETINOPATHY

What Is It?

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that occurs in people who have diabetes.  It causes progressive damage to the retina, the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy is a serious sight-threatening complication of diabetes.

Diabetes interferes with the body's ability to use and store sugar (glucose). The disease is characterized by too much sugar in the blood, which can cause damage throughout the body, including the eyes. 

Over time, diabetes damages the blood vessels in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when these tiny blood vessels leak blood and other fluids. This causes the retinal tissue to swell, resulting in cloudy or blurred vision. The condition usually affects both eyes. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic retinopathy. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness.

Diabetic Retinopathy

What Are The Symptoms?

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Seeing spots or floaters
  • Blurred vision
  • Having a dark or empty spot in the center of your vision
  • Difficulty seeing well at night

Often the early stages of diabetic retinopathy have no visual symptoms. That is why we recommend that everyone with diabetes have a comprehensive eye examination once a year. Early detection and treatment can limit the potential for significant vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.

What Are The Other Risk Factors?

  • Diabetes. People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely he or she is to develop diabetic retinopathy, particularly if the diabetes is poorly controlled.

  • Race. Hispanics and African Americans are at greater risk for developing diabetic retinopathy.

  • Medical conditions. People with other medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, are at greater risk.

  • Pregnancy. Pregnant women face a higher risk for developing diabetes and diabetic retinopathy. If a woman develops gestational diabetes, she has a higher risk of developing diabetes as she ages.
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