What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetes is a disease that affects the blood vessels throughout the body, particularly vessels in the kidney and eye. When blood vessels in the eye are affected, this is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among adults in the United States. If you are diabetic, your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy increases over time.
How common is diabetic retinopathy?
Approximately 80 percent of people who have diabetes for 15 years or longer have some damage to their retinal vessels.
How does diabetic retinopathy affect vision?
When the blood vessels located within the retina are damaged due to diabetes, they may leak fluid or blood or form scar tissue, reducing the ability of the retina to detect and transmit images.
Is there more than one type of diabetic retinopathy?
There are two main types of diabetic ocular problems: background diabetic retinopathy (BDR) and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). BDR involves retinal hemorrhages and swelling for which laser treatment may be indicated. PDR is more severe, with scar tissue formation necessitating the need for laser treatment and/or surgery.
What can I do?
If you are a diabetic, you can reduce your chance of developing diabetic retinopathy by keeping your blood sugar levels under control and by having your eyes examined at least once a year.