Diabetic retinopathy is the most common complication of diabetes that affects the eyes and affects over 5.3 million Americans, 18 years old or older.
At first, diabetic retinopathy may cause no symptoms or only slight vision problems, however, eventually, it can result in blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy can develop in anyone who has type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The longer that one has diabetes and the less controlled their blood sugar is, the higher they are at risk.
Patients with diabetes can prevent or slow the progress of diabetic retinopathy by taking prescribed medication to help maintain a healthy diet, exercising regularly, controlling high blood pressure and abnormal blood cholesterol levels, and avoiding alcohol and smoking.
If the disease does develop, significant vision loss can be avoided by monitoring aggressive blood sugar, pressure and cholesterol control. In addition, newer medications for retinopathy have recently been shown to be very effective for preserving, and sometimes improving vision.
There are several factors that can influences someone with diabetes to develop diabetic retinopathy. These include poor blood sugar, blood pressure and blood lipid control, the length of time they’ve had diabetes, race and family history.
African Americans and Hispanics are twice as likely to have diabetes.