Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy, also known as diabetic eye disease, is a medical condition in which damage occurs to the retina due to diabetes mellitus. It is a leading cause of blindness. Diabetic retinopathy affects up to 80% of those who have had diabetes for 20 years or more. At least 90% of new cases could be reduced with proper treatment and monitoring of the eyes. The retina is the membrane that covers the back of the eye. It is highly sensitive to light. It converts any light that hits the eye into signals that can be interpreted by the brain. This process produces visual images, and it is how sight functions in the human eye. Diabetic retinopathy damages the blood vessels within the retinal tissue, causing them to leak fluid and distort vision.

Diabetic retinopathy is the result of damage to the small blood vessels and neurons of the retina. The earliest changes leading to diabetic retinopathy include narrowing of the retinal arteries associated with reduced retinal blood flow; dysfunction of the neurons of the inner retina, followed in later stages by changes in the function of the outer retina, associated with subtle changes in visual function; dysfunction of the blood-retinal barrier, which protects the retina from many substances in the blood leading to the leaking of blood constituents into the retinal neuropile.

 

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