This image of the back of the eye shows a diabetic eye disease. The red lines are the blood vessels and are normal. The the little red dots show abnormal haemorrhages of blood and the yellow dots are areas of leakage deposited in the retina.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
The retina is the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (image to the left). Diabetes affects the eye in a way that compromises the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to meet the high demands of this tissue. It leads to death of blood vessel cells and thicker vessel membranes.
Cells may release Vascular Endothelium-derived Growth Factor (VEGF) which causes vessels to become leakier and causes new, abnormal vessels to form. The macula of the eye is part of the retina that is most sensitive and allows for your central vision but leaky vessels can often cause fluid to build up here which reduces central vision.
It is important to note that diabetic eye disease is part of a general whole body condition and so management of diabetic eye disease must involve looking at patients as a whole, including control of blood sugars, tablet medications and risk factors such as smoking, blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels. This should be part of every consultation.