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Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that occurs as a result of damage to the blood vessels of the retina in people who have diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy can develop if you have type 1 or 2 diabetes and a long history of uncontrolled high blood sugar levels. While you may start out with only mild vision problems, you can eventually lose your sight. Untreated diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common causes of blindness in the United States, according to the National Eye Institute. It’s also the most common eye disease in people with diabetes.

Types of Diabetic Retinopathy

Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR)

NPDR is also known as background retinopathy. It’s called “nonproliferative” because the eye doesn’t make new blood vessels during the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. During the early stages of retinopathy, damaged blood vessels often leak blood and fluid into the eye. In some cases, the center of the retina, or macula, begins to swell. This causes a condition called macular edema. The three stages of NPDR are mild, moderate, and severe, which may progress to the other type, or fourth stage, proliferative diabetic retinopathy.

Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR)

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy, or advanced retinopathy, is the stage of retinopathy in which new blood vessels begin to grow within the retina. These new blood vessels are usually abnormal and grow in the center of the eye.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

It’s uncommon to have symptoms during the early stages of this condition. The symptoms of diabetic retinopathy often don’t appear until major damage occurs inside of the eye. You can prevent unseen damage by keeping your blood sugar levels under good control and getting regular eye exams to monitor your eye health.

When the symptoms do appear, they’re most commonly seen in both eyes and can include:

  • seeing floaters or dark spots
  • difficulty seeing at night
  • blurred vision
  • a loss of vision
  • difficulty distinguishing colors
Vision eyeglass

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