Diabetic retinopathy is known to be a diabetes complication that happens due to a high blood sugar level which eventually leads to damaging the retina, the back section of the eye. If one does not get treated in time, it could lead to blindness.

Generally, diabetic retinopathy will take time to reach the threatening stage and people who are diabetic need to be quite cautious. They need to ensure that their cholesterol, sugar level, and blood pressure are always under control and are checked from time to time. They should also opt for diabetic eye screening appointments to ensure everything is fine with their eyes and overall system.

Diabetes can affect your eyes and you need to be aware of it. How?

The retina at the back of the eye is the light-sensitive layer of cells that helps convert light into electrical signals. These signals are then sent to the brain, which transfers them into images that you generally see. The retina should be constantly supplied with blood by a network of small blood vessels. But if an individual has been experiencing high blood sugar levels persistently, the blood vessels can eventually become damaged in three stages. They are:

  • Blood vessels may experience small bulges that will start to bleed but may not affect your vision. This is called background retinopathy.
  • When rigorous and pervasive changes take place it affects blood vessels, where the eye may start to bleed more; this is called pre-proliferative retinopathy.
  • New blood vessels and scar tissue that are fragile may start to bleed easily and start to develop on the retina. This is called proliferative retinopathy, and eventually one may become blind at this stage.

However, one can avert such a condition by making an early lifestyle change or starting the treatment in time.

Diabetic and hypertensive eye disease: Symptoms

Generally, one cannot understand or detect the symptoms until the condition deteriorates or has advanced extensively. A few of the symptoms of this disease include:

  • Swollen eyes
  • Reduced vision
  • Blood vessels start to burst
  • Double vision, which is generally attendant with headaches

You should make sure that you quickly see a doctor if your blood pressure starts to rise and you notice changes in your vision.

Diabetic and hypertensive eye disease: Causes

One of the chief causes is hypertension or protracted high blood pressure. You need to understand that high blood pressure is a chronic problem wherein the force of the blood against the arteries is quite high. This force happens when blood pumps out of the heart and into the arteries and the heart rests between the heartbeats after the force is created. When the blood moves throughout the body at a higher pressure, the tissues that makes up the arteries start stretching and as time proceeds they become damaged. With this, one starts encountering several other problems as time moves on.

Diabetic and hypertensive eye disease in the United States

High blood pressure or hypertension is a quite commonly found condition in the United States. And in most cases it leads to hypertensive eye disease. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 3 adults in the United States are affected by hypertension. It is known to be a silent killer since it generally does not have any evident symptoms.

African American adults have a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with diabetes as compared to non-Hispanic whites. African American adults are also quite likely to develop diabetes and die due to diabetes-related complications. One of the commonly found conditions is diabetic retinopathy, a condition that could lead to loss of vision permanently or retinal damage.

Blacks and Mexican Americans have a higher tendency of being affected with moderate to severe retinopathy. Conversely, blacks who have not been diagnosed with diabetes stand a lesser chance of developing retinopathy.


Diabetic retinopathy is undeniably a condition that may damage the retina of the eye, and it is vision threatening. As reported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it has been the cause of blindness amongst working-age Americans. However, one can prevent such occurrences with regular eye examinations as well as proper treatments.