If you have diabetes mellitus, your body does not use and store sugar properly. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels in the retina, the nerve layer at the back of the eye that senses light and helps to send images to the brain. The damage to the retinal vessels is referred to as diabetic retinopathy.
A medical examination is the only way to find changes inside your eye. An eye care provider can often diagnose diabetic retinopathy before you are aware of any vision problems. It is important to know that today, with improved methods of diagnosis and treatment, only a small percentage of people who develop retinopathy have serious vision problems. Early detection of diabetic retinopathy is the best protection against vision loss.
You can significantly lower your risk of vision loss by maintaining strict control of your blood sugar and visiting your eye doctor regularly. People with diabetes should schedule a dilated examination at least once a year. More frequent medical eye examinations may be necessary after the diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy.