Diabetic Retinopathy is a condition that affects the blood vessels in the retina. It is a complication of diabetes and is more likely to occur in individuals who have had diabetes for a long time or have poorly controlled blood sugar levels.
In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels in the retina may weaken and develop tiny bulges called microaneurysms. These microaneurysms can break causing small haemorrhages and swelling in the retina. When the swelling affects the central part of the retina called the macula, it is called diabetic macular oedema.
As the condition progresses, blood vessels can become blocked leading to reduced blood supply and triggering the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels. These vessels are fragile and bleed easily and can lead to large haemorrhages in the eye, scarring and even retinal detachment. This advanced form is called proliferative diabetic retinopathy.