Diabetic retinopathy is the inflammation and scarring of the retina (part of the eye) that occurs in people with diabetes. It causes loss of vision in adults with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and is the most common cause of blindness in middle-aged Americans, accounting for at least 12 % of all new cases of blindness in this age group.
The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to develop diabetic retinopathy. After having diabetes for 30 years, the risk of blindness due to diabetic retinopathy is very high. However, strict control of diabetes can help prevent or delay the onset of vision loss. Regular eye doctor appointments and good control of blood pressure can also help preserve your vision. If you already have mild to moderate diabetic retinopathy, strict control of your diabetes can help keep your vision problems from getting worse.
Diabetic retinopathy is caused by having too much sugar in your blood on a regular basis (chronic hyperglycemia). Chronic hyperglycemia occurs when you do not control your blood sugar well enough. Medical researchers are not entirely sure why chronic hyperglycemia causes retinopathy, but they have some theories. Excess sugar may cause blood vessels to grow in the retina (swelling), or it could cause tiny blood clots to form in your eye. Both of these processes can damage your retina.
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