Generally speaking, diabetics do not develop diabetic retinopathy until they have had the disease for several years. Even though in some cases it may take a while for diabetic retinopathy to develop, you should still have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year as soon as you have been diagnosed with diabetes.
In the retina, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels causing them to leak fluid or bleed. This will cause the retina to swell and form deposits. When this occurs, an early form of diabetic retinopathy called non-proliferative or background retinopathy has now developed.
In a later stage, new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. When this happens, it is called proliferative retinopathy. These new blood vessels can lead to serious vision problems because they can break and cause bleeding into the vitreous which is the clear, jelly-like substance that fills the interior of the eye. Proliferative retinopathy is a much more serious form of the disease and can lead to blindness.
Below are some tips that may help reduce the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy:
- Keep your blood sugar under good control.
- Maintain a healthy diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Carefully follow your doctor's instructions.