Diabetic retinopathy is a diabetes complication that affects eyes. It's caused by damage to the blood vessels of the lightsensitive tissue at the back of the eye (retina) and usually affects both eyes.
Fragile, abnormal blood vessels can develop and leak blood into the center of the eye, blurring vision. This is proliferative retinopathy and is the fourth and most advanced stage of the disease. Fluid can leak into the center of the macula, the part of the eye where sharp, straightahead vision occurs. The fluid makes the macula swell, blurring vision.
You might not have symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. As the condition progresses, diabetic retinopathy symptoms may include:
- Spots or dark strings floating in your vision (floaters)
- Blurred vision
- Fluctuating vision
- Impaired colour vision
- Dark or empty areas in your vision
- Vision loss
Careful management of your diabetes is the best way to prevent vision loss. If you have diabetes, see your eye doctor for a regular eye exam with dilation — even if your vision seems fine.
Pregnancy may worsen diabetic retinopathy, so your eye doctor may recommend additional eye exams throughout your pregnancy.