What is Retinopathy?


Retinopathy is a condition that refers to a complication arising from diabetes and is characterized by damage to the blood vessels of the retina, or the back of the eye. Mild vision issues can occur at the onset of retinopathy, and some people experience no symptoms at all. However, the condition can become more serious and eventually result in permanent blindness.

Those living with diabetes are at risk for this condition, especially if they have had diabetes for a long period of time. Like other conditions, developing retinopathy is dependent on proper maintenance of blood glucose levels—the less controlled your blood sugar is, the more likely it is you will be affected by retinopathy. Running too high or too low can lead to a variety of complications, but it can be particularly devastating as a complete loss of vision is absolutely possible.

Common symptoms of this condition include:

  •      blurred vision
  •      changing vision
  •      color-impaired vision
  •      empty or dark spots
  •      eye pain
  •      any vision loss at all

Usually, both eyes will be affected once retinopathy sets in. This condition can lead to serious vision problems such as retinal detachment, glaucoma, vitreous hemorrhage and blindness.

A yearly dilation exam conducted by an eye doctor is a great tool for defense against retinopathy, aside from regular diabetes maintenance. Keeping blood sugar and cholesterol under control is highly recommended, as is quitting any tobacco usage. This condition is treatable and can be aided by laser or vitrectomy surgery, though it is incurable once contracted. These treatments can help preserve vision and greatly reduce further risks.

Contacting a doctor is strongly recommended if someone with type 2 diabetes feels they are experiencing possible symptoms of retinopathy, as the longer this condition progresses unnoticed, the greater the chance becomes of losing the ability to see completely.

Written By Beyond Type 2 Editorial Team, Posted , Updated 09/02/23

This piece was authored collaboratively by the Beyond Type 2 Editorial Team.