The disease usually affects both eyes, though one can be affected more than the other, and is caused when a patient’s blood pressure or blood sugar are too high. Over time, this can damage the blood vessels that supply blood to the retina in the eye, which coverts light into electrical signals and sends them to the brain. If the retina doesn’t get the blood it needs, it can’t work properly, meaning vision is affected. It can eventually cause permanent blindness.
The disease is progressive: at first, the blood vessels start to leak and eventually cause bleeding inside the eyes. There are three stages of retinopathy that mainly affect the central part of the retina and can cause permanent blindness, while a different type of the disease, called maculopathy, affects the middle of the eye.
We raise awareness of diabetic retinopathy through public health campaigns, and we provide support for local health services to make sure patients are diagnosed and referred for treatment as soon as possible.
The sooner people with diabetic retinopathy are treated, the more likely it is that their sight can be saved.