Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among people living with diabetes. It is part of a group of diseases described as diabetic eye disease. This grouping also includes diabetic macular edema (DME), cataracts, and glaucoma. However, in most cases, when someone says “diabetic eye disease” they are referring to diabetic retinopathy or DME.
It is common among people living with diabetes, with nearly half having some form of diabetic eye disease. Of that half, only half are aware of the developing condition.
Click to learn more about cataracts1 and glaucoma2.
About 1 in 20 people with diabetes have proliferative retinopathy. Proliferative retinopathy’s main hallmark is significant vision loss and legal blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy has two main impacts: macular swelling, and changes to the blood vessel network that supplies the retina. Macular swelling is referred to as diabetic macular edema (explained below).
There are four stages of diabetic retinopathy:
Treatments are available to help manage diabetic retinopathy. Learn more about how we treat diabetic retinopathy3.
DME is the build up of edema (fluid) in the macula. It can cause the macula to swell and impair vision. Among people with diabetic retinopathy, DME is the most common cause of vision loss.
Vision lost to diabetic retinopathy is generally permanent, meaning that the name of the game is detection and management of the disease. By preventing its progression, visual acuity and quality of life can best be preserved.
Lifestyle factors are also important in managing retinopathy. Keeping your blood sugar levels in check via diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors can reduce the development of retinopathy and DME.