Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease caused by high blood sugar and high blood pressure. Over time, this can damage the blood vessels in the back of the eye and cause permanent blindness. Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes. People who have diabetes may develop diabetic retinopathy and are at higher risk of developing other eye problems like cataract and glaucoma.
Diabetic retinopathy is caused when blood pressure or blood sugar are too high. Over time, this can cause damage to blood vessels in the retina. The blood vessels can swell, leak or close, stopping blood from passing through and eventually causing bleeding inside the eyes. If the retina doesn’t receive the blood it needs to function properly, vision is affected and ultimately it can cause permanent blindness.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include spots in vision, blurred vision or fluctuating vision, impaired color vision, dark or empty areas in vision and vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed with a comprehensive dilated eye exam.
Diabetic retinopathy can be managed by keeping blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control. If detected early, injections and laser treatment can stop diseases from progressing, and in cases of advanced diabetic retinopathy, surgery can remove blood and new blood vessels from the back of the eye.
Francophone Africa is frequently overlooked by international development stakeholders when it comes to restoring sight and providing quality eye care. The Organization for the Prevention of Blindness (OPC) works with local governments, civil society organizations and communities to fight blindness, restore vision, encourage local ownership of eye health care systems and ensure human right to sight.