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Diabetic Retinopathy

When high blood sugar levels go unchecked, it can damage the tiny blood vessels that support the retina. These blood vessels can swell, break, and leak fluid. In some cases, dozens of new, abnormal blood vessels grow, a condition called proliferative retinopathy. The abnormal vessels are very fragile and break open easily. These processes gradually damage the retina, causing blurred vision, blind spots, or blindness.

Diabetes can affect many aspects of a person’s health. It can have very damaging effects on the eye as well. The Retina contains blood vessels that can become damaged as a result of diabetes. There are two types of Diabetic Retinopathy: Non-proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR), which is the early, less severe form of the disease; and Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR), the later stages of the disease which can cause the most damage to a person’s vision.

Non-proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy is caused by fluid from the blood vessels in the Retina leaking into the macula. This causes the macula to swell and can lead to blurry or cloudy vision. In its more advanced stages, Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy sets in and new blood vessels can form in the Retina. These irregular blood vessels can cause damage by leaking blood into the vitreous. If it goes untreated, PDR can possibly lead to Retinal detachment and even glaucoma.

Management of Diabetic Retinopathy ranges from simple maintenance to complex treatments. Being health conscious about managing diabetes can help stave off the onset of NPDR. It is important that persons with diabetes have regular eye checkups to monitor developments in the Retina. If more serious problems become apparent there are a variety of medical and surgical procedures that can be employed to protect the patient’s vision as much as possible.

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