Diabetic retinopathy is retinopathy (damage to the retina) caused by complications of diabetes mellitus, which can eventually lead to blindness. It is an ocular manifestation of systemic disease which affects up to 80% of all patients who have diabetes for 10 years or more.
Diabetic retinopathy: A common complication of diabetes affecting the blood vessels in the retina (the thin light-sensitive membrane that covers the back of the eye). If untreated, it may lead to blindness. If diagnosed and treated promptly, blindness is usually preventable.
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common and most serious eye-related complication of diabetes. It is a progressive disease that causes retinal swelling and destroys small blood vessels in the retina, eventually leading to vision problems. In its advanced forms, known as “diabetic macular edema” and “proliferative retinopathy,” it can cause moderate to severe vision loss and blindness.
Over time, the disease progresses to its advanced or proliferative stage, and fragile new blood vessels grow along the retina. However, these fragile vessels can bleed easily, and haemorrhage may leak into the retina and the clear, gel-like vitreous that fills inside of the eye. Unless quickly treated, this can result in spots, floaters, flashes, blurred vision, vision loss, and even temporary blindness. In later phases of the disease, continued abnormal vessel growth and the formation of scar tissue may cause serious problems such as retinal detachment and glaucoma, both of which can cause permanent blindness. Diabetic macular edema, which involves swelling in the retina that transiently or permanently impairs vision, can occur at any stage of diabetic retinopathy. Treatment to prevent or reverse this condition remains a major unmet clinical need.