Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes currently affects one in ten people worldwide

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

It is an eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness in people who have diabetes. It affects the blood vessels in the retina – the light sensitive layer of tissue in the back of the eye

If you have diabetes, it is very important to get an in depth dilated eye examination at least once a year. Diabetic retinopathy may not have any symptoms at first, but finding it early can help you take steps to protect your vision.

What causes Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is caused by high blood sugar due to diabetes. Over time, having too much sugar in your blood can damage your retina, the part of your eye that detects light and sends signals to your brain through a nerve in the back of your eye (optic nerve).  

Diabetes damages blood vessels all over the body. The damage to your eyes starts when sugar blocks the tiny blood vessels that go to your retina, causing them to leak fluid or bleed. To make up for these blocked blood vessels, your eyes then grow new blood vessels that don’t work well. These new blood vessels can leak or bleed easily. 

What other problems can Diabetic Retinopathy cause?

Diabetic retinopathy can lead to other serious eye conditions: 

  • Diabetic macular edema (DME). Over time, about 1 in 15 people with diabetes will develop DME. DME happens when blood vessels in the retina leak fluid into the macula (a part of the retina needed for sharp, central vision). This causes blurry vision.
  • Neovascular glaucoma. Diabetic retinopathy can cause abnormal blood vessels to grow out of the retina and block fluid from draining out of the eye. This causes a type of glaucoma (a group of eye diseases that can cause vision loss and blindness).
  • Retinal detachment. Diabetic retinopathy can cause scars to form in the back of your eye. When the scars pull your retina away from the back of your eye, it’s called tractional retinal detachment.

Some symptoms may include:

  • Spots or dark strings floating in your vision (floaters)
  • Blurred vision
  • Fluctuating vision
  • Dark or empty areas in your vision
  • Vision loss

If you have any of these symptoms please call us and we can advise you.


Please take a look at the NHS website for more information.