Diabetic retinopathy

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This overview introduces contributions to a special issue on causes of vision loss from diabetes mellitus, focusing on the retina and also the cornea. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common and leading cause of vision loss among people with diabetes. Research to detect early symptoms, understand mechanisms leading to diabetic eye disease, and the development of treatments is a highly active research area, with currently about 2000 scientific publication per year. We provide a series of 27 comprehensive reviews and research articles from leading experts in the field.


In the early stages, most people experience no signs of diabetes-related retinopathy. You may not experience vision changes until the condition is severe. For some people, symptoms come and go.

Symptoms of diabetes-related retinopathy include:

Blurred or distorted vision.

New color blindness or seeing colors as faded.

Poor night vision (night blindness).

Small dark spots (eye floaters) or streaks in your vision.

Trouble reading or seeing faraway objects.

Spots or dark strings floating in your vision (floaters)

Blurred vision.

Fluctuating vision.

Dark or empty areas in your vision.

Vision loss.


Diabetic retinopathy is caused by prolonged high blood glucose levels Over time, high sugar glucose levels can weaken and damage the small blood vessels within the retina.

This may cause haemorrhages, exudates and even swelling of the retina.

This then starves the retina of oxygen, and abnormal vessels may grow. Good blood glucose control helps to lower diabetes retinopathy risks.

Risk factors

The risk of developing the eye condition can increase as a result of:

Having diabetes for a long time.

Poor control of your blood sugar level.

High blood pressure.

High cholesterol.


Tobacco use.

Being Black, Hispanic or Native American.

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Complications can lead to serious vision problems:

Vitreous hemorrhage. The new blood vessels may bleed into the clear, jellylike substance that fills the center of your eye. ...

Retinal detachment. ...

Glaucoma. ...



If you have diabetes, you can lower your risk of developing diabetes-related retinopathy by:

Avoiding smoking.

Controlling your blood sugar.

Exercising regularly.

Having annual eye exams.

Keeping your blood pressure within a healthy range.

Taking any medications exactly as prescribed.