Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Diabetic Retinopathy - What Increases Your Risk

Your risk for diabetic retinopathy depends largely on two things: how long you have had diabetes and whether or not you have kept good control of your blood sugar.

You can control some risk factors, which are things that may increase your risk for diabetic retinopathy and its complications. Risk factors that you can control include:

Recommended Related to Diabetes

Diabetes 9 to 5: Tips to Help You Manage Your Diabetes at Work

When television's perennially popular Mary Richards walked into WJM's Minneapolis newsroom in 1970, she did more than show the world a single girl could "make it on her own." The award-winning actress who portrayed her -- Mary Tyler Moore -- also showed us diabetes and a career could coexist. Moore was diagnosed with adult-onset type 1 diabetes in the 1960s, several years before her Emmy-winning show began. But that didn't stop Moore from pursuing her career or turning the world on with a smile...

Read the Diabetes 9 to 5: Tips to Help You Manage Your Diabetes at Work article > >

  • Pregnancy. Women who have diabetes are at increased risk of developing retinopathy during pregnancy. In women who already have retinopathy when they become pregnant, the condition can become much worse during pregnancy. If you get pregnant, you will need to have an eye exam sometime during the first 3 months. You'll also need close follow-up during your pregnancy and for 1 year after you have your baby.1
  • Consistently high blood sugar. High blood sugar levels increase your risk of retinopathy. Keeping your blood sugar levels in a target range can reduce your risk for diabetic retinopathy and can slow the progression of the disease if it has already started.
  • High blood pressure. In general, people with diabetes who also have high blood pressure are more likely to develop complications that affect the blood vessels in the body, including those in the eyes.
  • Delayed diagnosis and treatment. Getting a dilated eye exam will not prevent retinopathy. But it may reduce your risk of severe vision loss from complications of retinopathy. By detecting it early, you can get treatment that can prevent vision loss and delay the progression of the disease.
  • Smoking. Although smoking has not been proved to increase the risk of retinopathy, smoking may make many of the other health problems faced by people with diabetes worse, including disease of the small blood vessels.

If you have type 2 diabetes and use the medicine rosiglitazone (Avandia, Avandamet, Avandaryl) to treat your diabetes, you may have a higher risk for problems with the center of the retina (the macula). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the makers of the drug have warned that taking this medicine could cause swelling in the macula, which is called macular edema.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: January 28, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Diabetic tools
    Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
    woman flexing muscles
    10 strength training exercises.
     
    Blood sugar test
    12 practical tips.
    Tom Hanks
    Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
     
    kenneth fujioka, md
    Video
    Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
    Article
     
    Middle aged person
    Tool
    Home Healthcare
    Video
     

    Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
    Article
    type 2 diabetes
    Slideshow
     
    food fitness planner
    Tool
    feet
    Slideshow