Retinopathy is one of the more serious diabetes complications that affects the eyes. It occurs when the small blood vessels in the retina (the light-sensitive area in the back of the inner eye) become damaged, usually as a result of metabolic changes associated with diabetes. The longer you’ve been living with diabetes, the higher your risk of developing this condition.
Early diagnosis and treatment are very important, as diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the industrialized world today. In fact, it leads to 12,000 to 24,000 new cases of blindness annually.
There are three main types of diabetic retinopathy:
- Background retinopathy, which occurs when the blood vessels are damaged, but there is no problem with vision.
- Maculopathy, which happens as a result of damage to the macula (a small area in the center of the retina that provides central vision and helps us to see fine details), and leads to impaired vision.
- Proliferative retinopathy, which develops as a result of poor blood flow and oxygen delivery to the eye
If you have diabetes, you should do everything you can to protect your eyes. For optimal protection, maintain blood sugar levels, eat a low-fat diet with lots of carotenoid-rich leafy greens, and take a nutritional supplement that targets vision health.