Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye disease in people with diabetes and the leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, retinal blood vessels may swell and leak fluid while, in others, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. These changes may result in vision loss or blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy cannot be completely avoided, but the risk can be greatly reduced. Better control of blood sugar slows the onset and progression of retinopathy and lessens the need for laser surgery for severe retinopathy.