Diabetic retinopathy is a closing of the blood vessels in the retina, resulting in the retina being starved of blood. This leads to fragile and abnormal blood vessels growing on the surface of the retina, which can lead to permanent loss of vision – either from bleeding into the eye, detachment of the retina or retinal scarring.
Diabetic retinopathy affects up to 80% of all patients who have had diabetes for 10 years or more.
The condition particularly affects those with poor diabetic control, resulting in blood sugar levels which are too high over long periods of time.
Research indicates that at least 90% of new cases could be prevented if proper treatment and monitoring of the eyes is carried out on a regular basis.
Regular eye tests can help to spot the early signs of this condition and enable you to take action to control diabetes before it damages your body and your eyes. People with diabetes are entitled to free annual eye tests from the NHS.
It’s also important to have regular health checks, as there are often no early warning signs for diabetic retinopathy. The same applies to other diabetes-related conditions, such as diabetic macular oedema. A person with macular oedema is likely to have blurred vision, making it hard to do things like read or drive. In some cases, the vision will get better or worse during the day.
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