Diabetic Retinopathy is a major cause of loss of vision. If the patient receives proper care and treatment, diabetic retinopathy rarely causes blindness.
The retina (back of the eye) is made up of two parts: the macula and the peripheral retina. The macula is in the center of the retina. It allows you to see fine detail, recognizes faces, see street signs, and drive a car. The peripheral retina allows us to see things “out of the corner of our eye.” You would not be able to make out the fine detail of the object that you see. Blood vessels also provide nourishment and oxygen to the retina. In diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels become weak and leak fluid and/or blood into the retina. As a result, the retina becomes wet and swollen. When the retina is in this condition, it is unable to function properly. This is referred to as Background Diabetic Retinopathy (BDR).
Retinal vessels can also close off in patients with diabetes. The part of the retina that receives nutrition from the closed vessel will no longer work properly. This leads to the growth of new blood vessels in that area of the retina. This is referred to as neovascularization and can result in total loss of vision. This type of diabetic retinopathy is referred to as Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR).