Among many things, diabetes affects the small blood vessels of the body. The retina, the tissue layer inside the eye which processes the light signals that enter the eye, has many of these small blood vessels. Diabetic retinopathy is the term that is used when diabetes affects these small blood vessels. There are two types of diabetic retinopathy: proliferative and background.  In proliferative diabetic retinopathy, abnormal blood vessels arising from the retina grow inside the eye. These blood vessels are fragile, and they can break and bleed into the eye. This bleeding leads to vision loss and to scarring, and the scarring can cause the retina to come off or detach. In background diabetic retinopathy there are no new blood vessels growing inside the eye, but the blood vessels that are there become abnormal. Some of the blood vessels become blocked, and some of the blood vessels leak fluid, protein and blood. Both types of diabetic retinopathy are treated with laser. 

Control of the blood sugar in diabetes is the most important factor to prevent or delay the onset of diabetic retinopathy. Although we do not yet have a cure for diabetes, good control of diabetes delays the onset of diabetic retinopathy, helps to avoid the need for treatment, and helps to prevent vision loss. At Eye Specialties, we encourage our patients who have diabetes to work with their primary care physician to control the diabetes as best as possible. People who have diabetes should have their eyes examined at least once a year.

For more information about diabetes and the eye, please click here: http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/diabetic-retinopathy.cfm