Diabetic retinopathy is a disease in which the blood vessels of the retina of the eye get damaged due to diabetes. It is the most common cause of vision impairment and eventual loss in people suffering from diabetes. Complications such as swelling of an area of the retina called macula may also occur, a condition known as DME (Diabetic Macular Edema). Though patients of diabetic retinopathy may experience only slight vision impairment at first, it can lead to blindness eventually.
People suffering from type I or type II diabetes are at high risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. The longer one may have been suffering from diabetes, the greater the chances of developing this disorder. Poor control of blood sugar also puts you at higher risk for this disorder, as excessive sugar can block and damage the blood vessels in the retina. The eye attempts to grow new blood vessels, which may not develop properly. Pregnancy may worsen diabetic retinopathy, so pregnant women suffering from diabetes must also have their eye sight assessed.
You could be suffering from early or advanced diabetic retinopathy. In early diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels of the retina start getting weaker, leading to tiny bulges in the smaller vessels and dilation of the larger blood vessels. Fluid and blood may leak out of these vessels into the retina, and nerve fibres may also swell.
This leads to advanced diabetic retinopathy, whereby blood vessels get completely blocked and the eye tries to form new blood vessels, which are not properly formed. The accumulation of new blood vessels leads to formation of scar tissue, and may also cause pressure build up due to improper fluid drainage, which can damage the optic nerve and eventually cause blindness.