Diabetic retinopathy, the most common diabetic eye disease, occurs when blood vessels in the retina function abnormally. Sometimes these abnormal vessels swell and leak fluid or even close off completely. In other cases, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina.
Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes. People who have diabetic retinopathy often don’t notice changes in their vision in the early stages of the disease. As it progresses, diabetic retinopathy can cause vision loss that in many cases, cannot be reversed.
The best treatment for diabetic retinopathy is to prevent it. Strict control of blood sugar will significantly reduce the long-term risk of vision loss. Treatment usually will not cure diabetic retinopathy, nor does it usually restore normal vision, but it may slow the progression of vision loss. Without treatment, diabetic retinopathy progresses steadily from minimal to severe stages and can result in blindness.