Diabetes is on the rise in the U.S., and diabetic eye disease is a leading cause of blindness. Over time, high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels throughout the body, including those within the eyes. Diabetic retinopathy is the condition that occurs when the blood vessels in the retina become damaged from diabetes. If not detected in the early stages, diabetic retinopathy can cause permanent vision loss or even blindness.
The disease usually affects both eyes and there are two types of diabetic retinopathy—background retinopathy, also known as non-proliferative retinopathy, and proliferative retinopathy. With background diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels in the retina rupture, which puts you at risk of serious risk of vision loss. When the retina begins to lose enough blood, your body will try to grow new blood vessels on the retina to replace the ruptured vessels. This is considered proliferative diabetic eye disease, which is much more likely to result in permanent vision loss.