More than 24 million people – eight percent of the population – have diabetes. Diabetes is a form of vascular disease. Elevated levels of blood sugar over a long period of time can result in damage to the eyes blood vessels and retina, impairing vision. If left untreated, the eye’s macula can be damaged.
Diabetic retinopathy can lead to poor vision and even blindness. Most of the time, it gets worse over many years. At first, the blood vessels in the eye get weak. This can lead to blood and other liquids leaking into the retina from the blood vessels. This is called nonproliferative retinopathy. And this is the most common retinopathy. If the fluid leaks into the center of the eye, you may have blurry vision. Most people with nonproliferative retinopathy have no systems.
If blood sugar levels stay high, diabetic retinopathy will keep getting worse. New blood vessels grow on the retina. This may sound good, but these new blood vessels are weak. They can break open very easily, even while sleeping. If they break open, blood can leak into the middle part of the eye in front of the retina and change the vision. This bleeding can also cause scar tissue to form. Sometimes people don’t have symptoms until it is too late to treat them. This is why having eye exams regularly is so important.
When problems are detected early, a simple laser procedure can seal up leaky blood vessels in the eye.