Diabetic retinopathy


Diabetes complications that damage the eyes are referred to as diabetic retinopathy. Damage to the blood vessels in the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (retina) is what causes this condition.

Initially, diabetic retinopathy may not manifest any symptoms or may only result in minor eyesight issues. But later on, it may result in blindness.

Any person with type 1 or type 2 diabetes has the potential to acquire the illness. The likelihood of developing this eye problem increases with the duration of diabetes and how well the blood sugar is managed.


During the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, you might not experience any symptoms. As the situation worsens, you could get:

  • Color blindness that just recently occurred or colors appear to be faded
  • Dark spots or floating threads in your field of view (floaters)
  • Problems with reading or not able to see things from afar
  • Night blindness
  • Fluctuating vision
  • Blurring of vision
  • Bank or dark spaces in your vision
  • Blindness

To avoid losing your vision you need to carefully control your diabetes. Even if your eyesight seems fine, get a yearly eye checkup with dilation if you have diabetes.

Your risk of diabetic retinopathy can rise if you already have diabetes or develop it during pregnancy (gestational diabetes). Your eye doctor may advise further eye exams throughout your pregnancy if you’re expecting.

If your eyesight suddenly changes or becomes cloudy, splotchy, or blurry, call your eye doctor straight away.


As time goes by, having too much sugar in your blood can cause the small blood vessels that feed the retina to become blocked which hinders the retina’s blood supply. The eye makes an effort to generate new blood vessels as a result. However, these new blood vessels don’t grow properly and are highly prone to leakage.

Diabetic retinopathy comes in two different forms:

  • Early diabetic retinopathy. Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR), the more prevalent variety, is marked by the absence of new blood vessel growth (proliferating).

The retinal blood vessel walls deteriorate when you have NPDR. Small protrusions from the smaller arteries’ walls can occasionally leak fluid and blood into the retina. The diameter of larger retinal vessels can also start to enlarge and change. NPDR can worsen when more blood vessels are blocked, going from mild to severe.

There may occasionally be an accumulation of fluid (edema) in the macular region of the retina as a result of retinal blood vessel injury. Treatment is needed if macular edema impairs vision in order to prevent irreversible blindness.

  • Advanced diabetic retinopathy. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is a more serious form of diabetic retinopathy that can develop. This type results in the development of new, abnormal blood vessels in the retina as injured blood vessels close off. Due to the fragility of the new blood vessels, they could leak into the vitreous (jellylike substance that fills the center of the eye).

The retina may eventually separate from the back of your eye as a result of scar tissue produced by the development of new blood vessels. The eyeball may become pressurized if the new blood vessels obstruct the usual drainage of fluid from the eye. Glaucoma can develop as a result of this buildup harming the optic nerve, which delivers images from your eye to your brain.

Risk factors

Diabetes can cause diabetic retinopathy in anyone with the disease. The following factors can raise the chance of developing the eye condition:

  • Long-term diabetic condition (gestational diabetes, type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes)
  • Ineffective blood sugar management
  • Being pregnant
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol level
  • Using tobacco
  • Being Black, Hispanic or Native American