Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes , caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the back of the eye (retina). It can cause Visual impairment if left undiagnosed and untreated.
However, it usually takes several years for diabetic retinopathy to reach a stage where it could threaten your sight.
To minimise the risk of this happening, people with diabetes should:
This page covers:
How diabetes can affect the eyes
Am I at risk of diabetic retinopathy?
Symptoms ofdiabetic retinopathy
Diabetic eye screening
Reduce your risk of diabetic retinopathy
Treatments for diabetic retinopathy
The retina is the light-sensitive layer of cells at the back of the eye that converts light into electrical signals. The signals are sent to the brainand thebrain turns them into the images you see.
The retina needs a constant supply of blood, which it receives through a network of tiny blood vessels. Over time, a persistentlyhigh blood sugar level can damage these blood vessels in three main stages:
However, if a problem with your eyes is picked up early, lifestyle changes and/or treatment can stopit getting worse.
Read about the stages of diabetic retinopathy .
Anyone with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes is potentially at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
You're at a greater risk if you:
By keeping your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control, you can reduce yourchancesof developing diabetic retinopathy .
You won't usually notice diabetic retinopathy in the early stages, asit doesn't tend to haveany obvious symptoms untilit's more advanced.
However, early signs of the condition can be picked up by taking photographs of the eyes during diabetic eye screening .
Contact your GP or diabetes care team immediately if you experience:
These symptoms don't necessarily mean you have diabetic retinopathy, but it's important to get them checked out.Don't wait until your next screening appointment.
Everyone with diabetes who is 12 years old or overis invited for eye screening once a year.
Screening isoffered because:
The screening test involves examining the back of the eyes and taking photographs. Depending on your result, you may be advised to return for another appointment a year later, attend more regular appointments, or discuss treatment options with a specialist.
You can reduce your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, or help prevent it getting worse, by:
Treatment for diabetic retinopathy is only necessary if screening detects significant problems that mean your vision is at risk.
If the condition hasn't reached this stage, the above advice on managing your diabetes is recommended.
The main treatments for more advanced diabetic retinopathy are:
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes, caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the back of the eye (retina). It can cause blindness if left undiagnosed and untreated.
Read about the main stages of diabetic retinopathy, and what your diabetic screening result means.
Read about the main treatments for advanced diabetic retinopathy, including laser treatment, eye injections and eye surgery.
You can reduce your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, or help stop it getting worse, by keeping your blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control.