Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy affects people with diabetes. The leading cause of blindness in American adults, it is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina.

This diabetic eye disease weakens the small blood vessels in the retina. Retinal blood vessels can break down, leak, or become blocked - affecting and impairing vision over time. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, damage to the eye can occur when abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina.

Who is at risk for diabetic retinopathy? ► Who is at risk for diabetic retinopathy? ▼

Diabetic retinopathy is a problem linked to diabetes. Anyone with diabetes is at risk for diabetic retinopathy. Read More

What are the stages of diabetic retinopathy? ► What are the stages of diabetic retinopathy? ▼

The early stage of this disease is called nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy. In this stage blood vessels swell and sometimes bulge or balloon (aneurysm). The vessels may leak fluid that can build up in the retina and cause swelling. Read More

How do eye doctors check for diabetic retinopathy? ► How do eye doctors check for diabetic retinopathy? ▼

Often, there are no symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. Vision may seem unchanged until the disease becomes severe. Eventually, the vision of a person with diabetic retinopathy may become blurred or blocked entirely. But even in more advanced cases the disease may progress without symptoms for a long time. That is why regular eye exams are so important for people with diabetes. Read More

How do eye doctors treat diabetic retinopathy? ► How do eye doctors treat diabetic retinopathy? ▼

Doctors have a range of options for treating individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy. Read More

Medicare benefits and your eyes ► Medicare benefits and your eyes ▼

Information about the Welcome to Medicare Physical. Read More

Vision care financial assistance resources ► Vision care financial assistance resources ▼

Contact information for organizations and services that may be able to help with the cost of vision care. Read More

Hope for the future ► Hope for the future ▼

Scientists are still working toward a better understanding of diabetic retinopathy, and new treatment options are on the horizon. In the meantime, early detection of retinopathy and close watch by an eye doctor are major goals for the successful treatment of patients with diabetes.

People with diabetes need to know that dangerous changes in the retina often happen before they notice changes in their sight. All people with diabetes should have a professional eye exam at least once a year. The eye doctor can decide if you need more frequent exams. People with diabetes should also get regular medical care to control their diabetes.


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