Diabetic retinopathy is a degenerative eye disease that occurs in patients with diabetes, particularly those who have struggled with diabetes for years. Diabetes makes the body's blood vessels especially susceptible to damage, particularly those in the kidneys and eyes. When the retinal eye blood vessels are damaged by diabetes, they leak blood and/or fluids into the eye.
The retina may also form new, fragile blood vessels that can hemorrhage and leak as well. Either of these situations eventually may lead to permanent vision loss.
People with diabetes can reduce their risk for retinopathy by keeping their blood sugar under control. Once a person has diabetic retinopathy, treatment depends on the degree to which the disease has progressed.