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All diabetics are at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy, but not everyone with diabetes develops it.
Diabetes affects blood vessels throughout the body. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when blood vessels in the eyes are affected by this process.
The retina lies in the back of the eye and transmits visual images to the brain. When the retinal blood vessels are damaged due to diabetes, they do not function properly. They may leak or bleed, imparing the ability of the retina to detect and transmit images.This is called non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
As retinopathy becomes more advanced, new abnormal blood vessels may grow in the retina. This is called proliferativediabetic retinopathy. The abnormal vessels bleed into the eye or cause other problems such as retinal detachment.
Both proliferative and non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy are often treated with in-office laser treatment.
One can reduce the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy by keeping their blood sugar levels well controlled. A balanced diet and regular exercise can help one maintain acceptable blood sugar levels. Controlling blood pressure is also helpful.
There are usually no symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. Vision may not change until the disease becomes severe. A thorough with exam is often the only way to diagnose changes in the vessels of your eyes which is why routine eyecare for diabetics is so important.