Diabetic retinopathy is a condition which occurs in diabetes – a condition associated with a high blood sugar level. It specifically affects the part of the eye called the retina; this is the inner wall of the back of the eye, which functions like the film of a camera.
How Does Diabetes Affect the Eye?
If blood sugar levels are unstable or consistently higher than normal, the following changes can occur in the small blood vessels of the retina, which can lead to loss of vision:
- The vessels may become leaky, causing ‘water-logging’ of the central part of the retina. This is known as diabetic maculopathy (the macula is the central part of the retina).
- The vessels can become narrowed leading to a reduced blood supply to the retina.
- The retina responds by producing new blood vessels, which are fragile and bleed easily. This is known as proliferative retinopathy.