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Avoid Diabetic Retinopathy: Take Care of Your Eyes

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of new blindness and the most common eye disease for people with diabetes. Fortunately, you can prevent retinopathy by making healthy lifestyle choices and visiting your eye doctor regularly.

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Avoid Diabetic Retinopathy

If you're concerned about vision loss, take heart: There are things you can do right now -- today -- to protect your eyes long-term. Plus, by taking steps to save your vision, you'll also improve your diabetes control.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye disease among people with diabetes. It's also the leading cause of new blindness (not blind from birth) in the United States. Between 40 and 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some stage of diabetic retinopathy, according to the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health. And the International Diabetes Federation reports that 74 percent of people who have diabetes for 10 years or more will develop some form of diabetic retinopathy.

In diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels in the retina (a light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye) become blocked due to excess glucose levels and begin to grow new blood vessels to replace the damaged ones. But these new blood vessels are fragile and can swell or leak, causing impaired vision or vision loss.

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