Diabetes is a disease that causes many problems, but it is especially hard on the eyes and can lead to blindness. In fact, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among adults. About 25% of current diabetics have some form of the disease, and 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 form of diabetic retinopathy over the course of their life.
However, only a small percentage of these people will have serious vision problems, and even a smaller percentage become blind.
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.
A complete eye examination is the best protection against the progression of diabetic retinopathy. The disease can be detected using special instruments. If the problem is found, diagnostic tests are performed to determine the extent of damage. There are some treatments available, including the use of lasers to seal leaking blood vessels.