Patients with diabetes can develop changes in the retina, at the back of the eye. This is known as diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when tiny blood vessels inside the retina are damaged. The damage can block off small blood vessels, starving areas of the retina of blood, or make the vessels leak, causing swelling and bleeding which can result in poor vision. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent up to 98 per cent of severe vision loss.
All people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy and the longer a person has diabetes, the greater the risk. Poor control of blood sugar levels can also increase the risk.
Regular eye exams are necessary for people with diabetes because often there are no symptoms of diabetic retinopathy until serious damage has occurred.