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Updated January 12, 2009


The Retina

Definition: Retinopathy occurs when the small blood vessels in the retina, which lines the back of the eye, are damaged. The retina's purpose is to catch the images the eye sees and then transmit them to the brain. Diabetes causes changes in the blood vessels in the retina through a variety of mechanisms. This can lead to damage of the cells that respond to light and result in decreased vision and even blindness. Retinopathy is the most common eye complication associated with diabetes. High blood pressure, also common in those who have diabetes, also puts you at higher risk for retinopathy. If untreated, retinopathy can lead to blindness.
The visual damage of retinopathy can be envisioned by placing small pieces of paper on a camera lens and then attempting to look at objects through that lens.
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