Diabetic retinopathy is a serious condition that threatens the eyesight of people who have diabetes. It causes progressive damage to the retina, the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye.

Diabetes interferes with the body’s ability to use and store sugar (glucose). The disease is characterized by too much sugar in the blood, which can cause damage throughout the body, including the eyes. 

Over time, diabetes damages the blood vessels in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when these tiny blood vessels leak blood and other fluids. This causes the retinal tissue to swell, resulting in cloudy or blurred vision. The condition usually affects both eyes. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely he or she will develop diabetic retinopathy. If left untreated, it can cause blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy may be present without any symptoms. Early detection is the best protection against vision loss.

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Seeing spots or floaters
  • Blurred vision
  • Having a dark or empty spot in the center of your vision
  • Difficulty seeing well at night

Treating diabetic retinopathy depends on the extent of the disease. Your doctor may recommend injecting a medication into the eye to decrease inflammation, laser surgery to seal leaking blood vessels or more advanced surgery.

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