Diabetic Retinopathy is an eye disease affecting the blood vessels in the retinas of people with diabetes. It is one of the many “micro-vascular” complications that are associated with circulatory problems of people with diabetes and with poor glucose control. The retina is the light-sensing tissue at the back of the eye. According to the National Eye Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health, as many as 24,000 people with diabetes lose their sight each year. In the United States, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in adults less than 65 years of age.
Vision loss is caused when small blood vessels in the retina leak fluid into the eye, bleed or grow abnormally. These conditions can be treated with varying levels of success through laser surgery and other methods; however, vision that has been lost usually cannot be restored.
Recent findings as cited in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial showed that aggressive control of blood sugar levels slows the onset and progression of retinopathy and lessens the need for procedures like laser eye surgery by as much as 76%. Besides close management of glucose, it is absolutely vital that all diabetics receive appropriate eye care from an eye doctor. It is important that the diabetic patient is aware that dangerous changes in the retina often occur before vision is affected. It’s also very important that all people with diabetes be examined through dilated pupils at least yearly by an eye care professional, who will determine if more frequent eye examinations are necessary.
For more information about Diabetic Retinopathy, please refer to Prevent Blindness America or the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
To learn more visit the National Eye Institute.