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Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. When these blood vessels are damaged, they may leak blood and grow fragile new vessels. When the nerve cells are damaged, vision is impaired. These changes can result in blurring of your vision, haemorrhage into your eye, or, if untreated, retinal detachment. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness.

Diabetic Retinopathy has four stages:

Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy

  • At this earliest stage, micro aneurysms occur. They are small areas of balloon-like swellings in the retina's tiny blood vessels.

Moderate Nonproliferative Retinopathy

  • As the disease progresses, some blood vessels that nourish the retina are blocked.

Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy

  • Many more blood vessels are blocked, depriving several areas of the retina with their blood supply. These areas of the retina send signals to the body to grow new blood vessels for nourishment.

Proliferative Retinopathy

  • At this advanced stage, the signals sent by the retina for nourishment trigger the growth of new blood vessels. These new blood vessels are abnormal and fragile. They grow along the retina and along the surface of the clear, vitreous gel that fills the inside of the eye. By themselves, these blood vessels do not cause symptoms or vision loss. However, they have thin, fragile walls. If they leak blood, severe vision loss and even blindness can result

Untreated, Diabetic Retinopathy can lead to blindness. 80% of those that have diabetes for 10 years or more, will be affected by Diabetic Retinopathy. Of these cases, 90% can be reduced by proper treatment and regular monitoring of the eyes.


  • Blurred vision
  • Sudden loss of vision in one eye
  • Seeing rings around lights 
  • Dark spots or flashing lights


Many people who have lost some vision can use video magnifiers and screen magnification programs to retain independence.

For those who have lost most or all their sight, screen reading software is recommended. Because many people with diabetes also experience lessened sensitivity in their fingers, they do not usually use Braille.

TOPAZ Desktop Video Magnifiers allow you to read magazines and letters, view family photos, write checks, or engage in your favourite hobby, all in the comfort of your home or office.

RUBY Handheld Video Magnifiers can slip comfortably into a pocket or purse, giving you easy access to photos, letters, menus, prescription labels, and so much more, wherever you go.

ONYX Portable Video Magnifiers move from school to home to the office to help you see the board, read your assignments, take notes, do crafts, or to read, write, and view business presentations.

LOOKY 5  and LOOKY 10  Handheld Video Magnifier magnifies bills, bank statements, and even three-dimensional items like food labels and pill bottles for continued independence.

ZOOMTEXT Screen Magnification Software  provides screen magnification and screen reading for low vision computer users.

JAWS Screen Reading Software is for computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content or navigating with a mouse.

OpenBook Scanning and Reading Software provides access to documents or graphic-based text into on your PC so they can be read using high-quality speech.

OmniReader Scanning and Reading Appliance is a self-contained appliance to read printed pages for people without computer experiencewho are blind or have low vision. You can follow the magnified text in high-contrast colours on the built-in screen, or simply listen as the omniReader reads text out loud. You can also use the screen to instantly magnify objects and text, and see them more clearly.

The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.