Diabetic retinopathy is a medical condition that afflicts individuals, both men and women, dealing with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. However, not all diabetic patients develop this disease. A patient's risk exposure depends on several factors. But first, what exactly is diabetic retinopathy? Understanding diabetic retinopathy A person diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy experiences vision impairment, which could eventually lead to vision loss. Studies show that patients of Afro-Caribbean descent as well as Asians are at a higher risk for developing this eye condition more than any other diabetic patient. This condition specifically affects the eye's retina. Briefly, it begins to develop when blood vessels that supply blood to the retina get damaged. Because this is a slow-progressing disease, a diabetic patient may not be aware that their blood vessels have already been damaged, and they are at risk of developing this eye disease until the disease has already progressed to late-stage diabetic retinopathy. Once the disease has reached this stage, the patient may eventually experience a total loss of vision or complete blindness. It may also cause other serious eye conditions. Who are at risk? As mentioned above, not every diabetic patient will develop this particular eye disease. In general, patients who have been dealing with diabetes, whether Type 1 or Type 2, for ten years or more are more likely to develop the disease. Additionally, diabetic patients who consistently have high blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels are at higher risk for developing this progressive eye condition. Also, pregnant women with gestational diabetes are at greater risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. What are common symptoms of the disease? Typically, patients who may have already developed this particular diabetes-induced eye disease may not experience any symptoms in its early stages. But those who do experience symptoms often report that their initial symptoms are simply issues with their vision, like difficulty seeing objects from afar, that aren't consistent, which is why patients don't usually bother having their eyes checked when this occurs. They suppose these temporary vision problems are simply a sign that their eyes are tired. Does the disease put patients at risk for other types of eye disease? As mentioned above, patients who have been dealing with diabetes for a long time should also know that diabetic retinopathy may cause other serious eye diseases as well. Of these, the most common are retinal detachment, diabetic macular, and neovascular glaucoma.