Definition
This is a disorder of the retinal blood vessels. The retina is a light-sensitive layer in the eye that enables you to see. It does this by converting light into electrical signals, which are then sent to the brain. Damage to the retinal blood vessels can cause blurry vision or even blindness.

Causes
When the blood sugar levels are high, the cells that line the retinal blood vessels tend to swell and become damaged. As a result, the blood vessel may bleed, causing significant vision loss. As the blood vessels become increasingly damaged, they can become completely obstructed, depleting the retina of blood and nutrients and leading to its death.

To Note
All people with diabetes are at risk of retinopathy. In younger people with diabetes, the onset can be rapid, whereas in older people, it may come on more slowly. After 10 years of the disease, most people with diabetes will have some degree of retinopathy, but this is not usually sight-threatening.

Symptoms
Diabetic retinopathy often has no early warning signs. Therefore, do not wait for symptoms, but instead undergo a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.

As the disease progresses, you may experience some of these symptoms:

  • Poor reading vision
  • Blurred and fluctuating vision (often linked to blood sugar levels)
  • Floaters and flashes
  • Sudden loss of vision

Prevention

  • Good control of the blood sugar and blood pressure levels
  • Regular eye checks, including a retinal examination (this is the most important preventive measure for diabetic retinopathy).
  • Not smoking

Frequently Asked Questions about Diabetic Eye Disease
Is the laser treatment painful?
Laser treatment generally is not painful but may cause some temporary discomfort.

Who is at risk of diabetic retinopathy? All people with diabetes are at risk of this condition. That’s why one should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.