Damage to the blood vessels in your eyes (called diabetic retinopathy) can cause vision loss. When retinopathy is found early, laser treatment can help keep you from losing your vision. If it's not treated, retinopathy can cause blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy affects your retina. The retina is the part of the eye that is sensitive to light and sends messages to your brain about what you see. A healthy retina is necessary for good vision. Uncontrolled or poorly controlled diabetes can damage the small blood vessels of the retina. When the blood vessels of your retina are damaged, fluid can leak from them and cause swelling. The swelling and fluid can cause blurry vision and make it hard for you to see. If retinopathy worsens, your eye may begin to form new blood vessels over the retina. These vessels are fragile and can break easily and bleed. This bleeding can cause severe vision loss and blindness.
Call your doctor if you:
The most important thing you can do is to have your eyes checked regularly--at least once a year. You probably won't notice the early signs of diabetic retinopathy because the early changes in your eyes can only be seen through special equipment.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff