Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina.
In diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels are weakened. They may swell and leak fluid, or they may break open and cause a hemorrhage. In other instances, abnormal and unwanted blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. The retina is the light-detecting tissue at the back of the eye. A healthy retina is necessary for good vision.
If you have diabetic retinopathy, you may not initially notice changes to your vision. Over time, however, diabetic retinopathy can get worse and cause vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that you see your optometrist at least once a year for a dilated eye exam. This allows us to determine if you need treatment to preserve your vision. It also helps us to determine if you could have complications in your hands, feet, or kidneys.