It’s no secret: Diabetes can damage eyes. But did you know that half of all people who have had diabetes for 15 years or longer will develop a condition called diabetic retinopathy? Without treatment, this condition can cause blindness.
What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a type of damage to the retina — the inside layer of the eye that faces the lens.
What causes it?
High blood glucose and high blood pressure can cause the blood vessels in the retina to swell, leak fluid or even close off. New, but weaker, blood vessels sometimes grow to replace the damaged ones. They might also leak. Blood leaking into the vitreous body — the gel-like substance inside the eye — can block or blur vision or cause double vision.
How can you prevent it?
Follow your doctor’s advice for keeping your blood pressure and blood glucose at safe levels. And see your ophthalmologist every year for a dilated eye exam — that’s the only way to truly find out what’s happening inside your eyes.