Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes, which affects the retina of the eye. The retina is like a photographic film of the camera and is that part of the eye where light filtering through the lens of the eye is focussed. The focussed light images are then carried to the brain by the optic nerve.
The retina contains numerous blood vessels which nourish it. In diabetes, there is weakening of these blood vessels. These weakened blood vessels may leak blood or fluid and hence, may not perform their job of nourishing the retina. When leaking blood or fluid damages the retina, the images sent to the brain become blurred and the person with diabetes complains of inability to see clearly.
The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy is high when a patient has had diabetes for a long time. About 60% of patients having diabetes for 15 years or more will have some blood vessel damage in their eyes and a certain percentage of these will progress to have serious problems with vision. Because diabetes itself is fairly common, diabetic retinopathy has become one of the leading causes of blindness in the country. It is said that a diabetic person is 25 times more prone to blindness than the non-diabetic.