Diabetic retinopathy is a disease of the retina, the tissue in the back of the eye responsible for seeing well. Studies involving a large number of patients have shown that better control of your blood sugar as measured by the Hemoglobin A1c decreases your risk of developing vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic control is not easy. Many patients need to work with their general medical doctor, endocrinologist if they have one, and dietician if they have one on getting the blood sugar in an appropriate range.
There are two major problems which can occur in the eye due to diabetes.
First of all, there can be abnormal vessels, or microaneurysms, which can leak fluid in the center of the retina called the macula. If the swelling is bad enough, your vision can decrease from macualr edema. Diabetic macular edema can be treated with laser and injections.
New blood vessels can grow. This is called proliferative diabetic retinopathy. If this occurs, these new blood vessels can bleed causing an extreme loss of vision. They can also cause scarring in the back of the eye leading to a retinal detachment. Sometimes the new blood vessels will form in the front of the eye causing the eye pressure to become very high in neovascular glaucoma. Most patients with diabetes do not have retinopathy, but need yearly dilated exams to monitor the disease. I no longer perform laser treatments for diabetic retinopathy, because there are several excellent retina doctors in town who do treat retinopathy each and every day. If you do develop retinopathy to a stage needing treatement, I will refer you to one of those retina doctors.