Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common causes of blindness in the UK. Retinopathy means damage to the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish the retina, the tissues in the back of the eye that deal with light.
Damage to these vessels causes blood leakage (haemorrhage), which may be small and confined to the retina or may extend forward into the jelly that fills the main cavity of the eye (the vitreous gel). This can seriously affect your vision.
Another feature of diabetic retinopathy is that new, fragile blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina, particularly around the head of the optic nerve (the optic disc). These new vessels bleed easily.
Diabetic retinopathy can occur as a result of all types of diabetes and if left untreated can lead to blindness. It is important to have regular routine eye examinations because if new blood vessel formations are detected early, they can be treated effectively. Any new blood vessels can be dispersed by applying multiple laser burns to the periphery (outside edges) of the retina.