In early diabetic retinopathy, the vessels leak blood and fluid into the retinal tissues. If the leaking is extensive enough, vision worsens. This is referred to as Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy. (NPDR)
As the condition worsens from NPDR, fragile new blood vessels that may leak more blood will grow. This is referred to as Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR). Fibrous bands of tissue develop along these new vessels and later shrink, pulling on the retina which results in a retinal detachment and possible blindness.
Diabetic Retinopathy can be treated with lasers to destroy new blood vessels and injections to slow the progression of these vessels. Individuals with diabetes are 25% more likely than the general population to become blind.
An estimated 20 million Americans age 20 or older have either diagnosed diabetes mellitus, undiagnosed diabetes, or impaired fasting blood glucose levels. About one-third are not aware that they have the disease. If the diabetes is poorly controlled, diabetic retinopathy may develop. This is the #1 cause of blindness in the Hispanic population.