Diabetic retinopathy is a vision affliction that, while sometimes mild or asymptomatic, can lead to blindness. It is one of the most common causes of vision loss worldwide. Blood vessels in the retina become damaged and leak blood and other fluids into the eye’s interior. Risk factors increase in diabetics with less control over their blood sugar levels.
Symptoms include hemorrhaging, dark spots in vision (sometimes referred to as floaters), blurred or shifting vision, and even blindness.
There are two stages associated with diabetic retinopathy:
- Early diabetic retinopathy (nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy)
- Advanced diabetic retinopathy (proliferative diabetic retinopathy)
The early stage occurs when blood vessels in the retina weaken and leak into the eye. If left untreated, the damaged vessels become completely blocked off. New vessels grow during the advanced stage, but they are weaker and may continue to expel blood into the eye’s center.
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