Diabetes is a condition that affects your body’s natural ability to produce and regulate glucose, or blood sugar. A prolonged exposure to excess glucose can cause severe damage to many parts of the body–including your eyes. Due to an overabundance of glucose in the bloodstream, the blood vessels at the back of the retina may expand, close off, or leak; additionally, abnormal blood vessels can form.  This condition is known as diabetic retinopathy.

As the levels of blood supplied to the retina shift and change, the retina may tear or detach. This will cause severe vision issues, all the way up to blindness. Once the tiny blood vessels of the eyes are damaged, more abnormalities are likely to occur. Though the human body is resilient, it cannot naturally undue the damage wreaked by diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy can also affect pregnant women, people with high blood pressure, and people of Hispanic, African-American, or Native American origins. Diabetic retinopathy diagnosis may indicate a lifetime of exposure to dangerously high blood glucose levels. However, diabetic retinopathy may also be the result of untimely diagnosis or insufficient eye care

Each time that a diabetic’s blood sugar elevates to an unsafe level, the eye can be damaged. Individually, these instances of elevated blood glucose would not diminish a patient’s eyesight. For instance, a diabetic that is diagnosed soon after the onset of the disease and chooses to lead a healthy lifestyle would have a low chance of developing diabetic retinopathy. On the other hand, patients that are urged to manage their blood sugar levels, and even hospitalized due to diabetes complications, are routinely diagnosed.

While diabetes does not always cause diabetic retinopathy, it can cause a number of other vision problems, including changing the shape of your lens. Approaching diabetes with the goal of managing rather than surviving the disease can help to prevent diabetic retinopathy. The final stage of diabetic retinopathy culminates with total blindness. Advanced stage sufferers of diabetic retinopathy have almost no chance of regaining their vision.

Although the disease negatively impacts visual acuity, all patients do not become blind. Sufficiently managing blood glucose levels can stop diabetic retinopathy from further development. Time and laser eye surgery may also help diabetic retinopathy patients to prevent the disorder from advancing while simultaneously restoring some lost central vision. Diabetic retinopathy patients should go over their treatment options with the ocular surgeons of their choosing.