Diabetic retinopathy is progressive damage to the retina of the eye caused by long-term diabetes mellitus, which can eventually lead to blindness. Diabetic retinopathy is an ocular manifestation of systemic disease which affects up to 80% of all patients who have had diabetes for 10 years or more. Despite these intimidating statistics, research indicates that at least 90% of these new cases could be reduced if there was proper and vigilant treatment and monitoring of the eyes.
Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy develops first as blood vessels in the eye become larger in certain spots. Blood vessels may also become blocked. This may lead to small amounts of retinal bleeding, with fluid leaking into the retina. At first, it may not be very severe. In most cases, it will leave just a few specks of blood, or spots, floating in a person's visual field, though the spots often go away after a few hours.
Proliferative retinopathy is the more advanced and severe form of the disease when new blood vessels start to grow again in the eye. These new vessels are fragile and can bleed. Then, small scars develop on the retina and in the vitreous humour and coroids. AS a result, there is vision loss, as well as other problems.