Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among adults. Approximately, 25% of current diabetics have some form of the disease. The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy increases with the age of the diabetic person and the duration of the disease. It is estimated that 90% of diabetics may experience some for of diabetic retinopathy over the course of their life. However, only a small percentage of those developing diabetic retinopathy have serious vision problems, and even a smaller percentage become blind.
What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes mellitus which causes abnormalities in the tiny blood vessels nourishing the retina. These vessels weaken, leak fluid and blood, and fail to provide nutrients necessary for good health in the retina. Left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can result in severe visual loss, including blindness.
Who is at risk for this disease?
All people with diabetes are at risk--those with type 1 diabetes (juvenile onset) and those with type 2 diabetes (adult onset).
During pregnancy, diabetic retinopathy may also be a problem for women with diabetes. It is recommended that all pregnant women with diabetes have dilated eye examinations each trimester to protect their vision.