Picture of Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy, a common complication of diabetes, is a condition that affects the blood vessels that supply the retina. The condition occurs when the retina fails to receive enough oxygen. If it is not treated, diabetic retinopathy may lead to blindness. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of the condition can usually prevent blindness. Two types of diabetic retinopathy exist, nonproliferative and proliferative retinopathy. The former is less severe and is associated with bleeding (hemorrhages) in the retina that can diminish vision. Blood or serum leaks into the tissue, causing a “wet retina.” The other, more severe, type of the condition is called proliferative retinopathy. In this form, there is an abnormal growth of new, fragile blood vessels on the retina that grow toward the eye center. These vessels leak blood into the vitreous, the jelly-like center of the eye. The bleeding causes extreme problems with vision. The condition may be treated with vitreous surgery, sometimes involving the use of a laser. Damage due to diabetic retinopathy may be permanent. Surgical techniques can slow progression of the condition and sometimes even reverse loss of vision. Lifestyle changes including dietary modifications, weight loss, exercise, and keeping blood sugar within a healthy range can all help decrease the occurrence and progression of diabetic retinopathy.
Text Reference: National Eye Institute: “Facts About Diabetic Eye Disease”