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What is diabetic eye disease?

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye disease that affects people with diabetes (glaucoma and cataracts are also common) and is a leading cause of blindness in American adults. The damage to the blood vessels in the retina caused by retinopathy can result in vision loss or blindness. The disease causes new blood vessels to form at the back of the eye; as they form, they can bleed and blur vision, which might not be severe the first time, but can be followed by more blood and blurred vision, which can take anywhere from a few days to months or years to clear up. In some cases, the blood will never clear up.

Up to 80 percent of people who have had diabetes for 10 or more years are affected by retinopathy. The good news is that it is highly preventable – getting an annual eye examination by an ophthalmologist that includes dilation will allow your doctor to watch for signs of the disease.

Even if you have retinopathy, following your doctor’s prescribed treatment can be very effective in reducing vision loss.

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