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What happens if diabetic retinopathy isn't treated?

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Untreated diabetic retinopathy damages your eye’s retina. If your blood sugar level is too high for too long, it blocks off the small blood vessels that keep the retina healthy. Your eye will try to grow new blood vessels, but they won’t develop well. They start to weaken and leak blood and fluid into your retina. This can cause macular edema, which blurs your vision.  As your condition worsens, more blood vessels become blocked. Scar tissue builds up. This can make your retina detach and lead to glaucoma and other problems that may cause blindness.

SOURCES:


National Eye Institute: “Diabetic Retinopathy.”

Diabetes Care: “Diabetic retinopathy is associated with mortality and cardiovascular disease incidence: the EURODIAB prospective complications study.”

American Journal of Epidemiology: “Lower-than-Expected Prevalence and Severity of Retinopathy in an Incident Cohort followed during the First 4-14 Years of Type 1 Diabetes.”

New England Journal of Medicine: “Angiogenic Pathways in Diabetic Retinopathy.”

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger on June 22, 2021

SOURCES:


National Eye Institute: “Diabetic Retinopathy.”

Diabetes Care: “Diabetic retinopathy is associated with mortality and cardiovascular disease incidence: the EURODIAB prospective complications study.”

American Journal of Epidemiology: “Lower-than-Expected Prevalence and Severity of Retinopathy in an Incident Cohort followed during the First 4-14 Years of Type 1 Diabetes.”

New England Journal of Medicine: “Angiogenic Pathways in Diabetic Retinopathy.”

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger on June 22, 2021

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How is diabetic retinopathy diagnosed?

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