Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye disease in persons with diabetes.
Other Diabetic Eye Problems:
People with diabetes are also at risk for other diabetic eye diseases, such as:
cataract - a clouding or opaque area develops over the lens of the eye - an area that is normally transparent. As this thickening occurs, it prevents light rays from passing through the lens and focusing on the retina - the light sensitive tissue lining located in the back of the eye.
Persons with diabetes are twice as likely to develop a cataract.
glaucoma - increase in fluid pressure inside the eye that leads to optic nerve damage and loss of vision.
People with diabetes are also twice as likely as other adults to develop glaucoma.
What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, retinal blood vessels may swell and leak fluid, while in others, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. These changes may result in vision loss or blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy cannot be completely avoided, but the risk can be greatly reduced. Better control of blood sugar level slows the onset and progression of retinopathy and lessens the need for laser surgery for severe retinopathy.
What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?
There may be no symptoms or pain in the early stages of the diabetic retinopathy, and vision may not change until the disease progresses.
A condition called macular edema may occur when the macula, a part of the retina, swells from the leaking fluid and causes blurred vision. When new vessels grow on the surface of the retina, they can bleed (hemorrhage) into the eye, blocking vision.
Who is at risk for diabetic retinopathy?
Anyone with diabetes is at risk for diabetic retinopathy. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely it becomes that he or she will develop diabetic retinopathy.
Can diabetic retinopathy be prevented?
Although diabetic retinopathy cannot be prevented, the risk of developing it can be reduced by: