Retinopathy is the general name of a condition of the eyes in which the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the retina of the eyes are damaged. The retina is a light-sensitive membrane that lines the back of the eyes, and a healthy retina is vital to normal vision. The retina is a light-sensitive membrane that lines the back of the eyes and transmits converts light into electrical impulses and transmits them to the optic nerve and the brain.
Retinopathy develops due to damage the blood vessels of the retina. This leads to leaking or bleeding of the blood vessels or the growth of abnormal blood vessels. These processes can prevent light from reaching the retina. This leads to the typical symptoms of retinopathy, such as changes in vision, including blurred vision. There also may be eye pain in retinopathy. However, in early stages of retinopathy, there may be no noticeable symptoms.
In later stages of retinopathy, serious complications can result, including retinal detachment and blindness. For more details about complications and symptoms, see symptoms of retinopathy.
Types of retinopathy include retinopathy of prematurity, which is caused by the incomplete development of the blood vessels of the eyes due to premature birth. Diabetic retinopathy can occur in people with diabetes as blood vessels are damaged by long-term high levels of blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Hypertensive retinopathy can occur in people with hypertension as blood vessels are damaged by long-term high blood pressure.
Diagnosing retinopathy begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination, including an extensive eye examination. Diagnosis of retinopathy is generally made by an eye specialist called an ophthalmologist.
An eye examination for many people with retinopathy includes testing visual acuity or sharpness of vision, checking the sharpness of peripheral vision, and testing the pressure inside the eye. The outer eye is examined using an instrument called a slit lamp, and the inner eye is examined using an instrument called an ophthalmoscope. During the exam with an ophthalmoscope, the pupils of the eye are dilated (opened up) with a drop of medication so that the ophthalmologist can best see any changes in the retina, such as leaking blood vessels, or abnormal new blood vessels.
A diagnosis of retinopathy and its cause can be delayed or missed because symptoms develop gradually in some forms of retinopathy. In addition, symptoms of retinopathy are similar to symptoms of other eye diseases and conditions. For information about diseases and conditions that can mimic retinopathy, refer to misdiagnosis of retinopathy.
Prevention of retinopathy is very important for people with diabetes and hypertension. The longer a person has diabetes or hypertension, the more likely a person will develop retinopathy. Good control of blood sugar levels and blood pressure minimizes the risks of developing retinopathy and can slow progression of the condition. Regular prenatal care is vital to preventing premature birth and retinopathy of prematurity. For more information on prevention and treatment, refer to treatment of retinopathy. ...more »
Retinopathy is damage to the retina at the back of the eye.
For diabetic retinopathy
it occurs because the tiny blood vessels in the retina are damaged by blood sugars
Eventually, the damage to these micro blood vessels causes
them to rupture causing tiny clots and aneurisms at the back of the eye.
The scar tissue created by this damage and growth of new retina blood vessels,
leads to further retina damage.
Eventually the retina can actually deform in shape
and sometimes partially detach from the back of the eye. ...more »
People with retinopathy can experience a variety of symptoms. Diabetic retinopathy and hypertensive retinopathy generally develop slowly over a period of months as ongoing high blood sugar or high blood pressure damage the blood vessels of the retina. In early stages of retinopathy, there may be no noticeable symptoms. However, changes in the retina and the blood ...more symptoms »
The first step in the treatment of retinopathy is prevention. The damage done to the blood vessels of the retinas of the eyes can be permanent, so it is vital that people with hypertension or diabetes prevent its occurrence. Regular prenatal care is vital to preventing premature birth and retinopathy of prematurity.
Prevention, as well as treatment, of diabetic retinopathy ...more treatments »
A diagnosis of retinopathy may be delayed or missed because retinopathy can develop gradually. In early stages, there may be no symptoms, and people may be unaware of having retinopathy until complications, such as blurred vision, develop. In addition, some symptoms of retinopathy, such as blurred vision, seeing spots, change in vision, sudden ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Retinopathy
See full list of 15
symptoms of Retinopathy
Home Diagnostic Testing
Home medical testing related to Retinopathy:
- High Cholesterol: Home Testing:
- High Blood Pressure: Home Testing
Wrongly Diagnosed with Retinopathy?
Retinopathy: Related Patient Stories
Types of Retinopathy
See full list of 6
Types of Retinopathy
Review possible medical complications related to Retinopathy:
Causes of Retinopathy
See full list of 75
causes of Retinopathy
More information about causes of Retinopathy:
Disease Topics Related To Retinopathy
Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Retinopathy:
Retinopathy: Undiagnosed Conditions
Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:
In-Depth Reports: Diagnosis and Misdiagnosis
Diabetes diagnosis and misdiagnosis (In-Depth Report): Detailed report on diabetes misdiagnoses, rare curable types, and
less common diagnostic issues....read full report »
Read more about Misdiagnosis and Retinopathy
Misdiagnosis and Retinopathy
Metabolic syndrome often undiagnosed: Metabolic syndrome, also known as Syndrome X, is
an often overlooked medical condition that causes a cluster of chronic symptoms.
There are often four symptoms and conditions...read more »
Heart attacks can be undiagnosed: Although the most severe symptoms of heart attack are hard to miss,
there are varying degrees of severity.
It is...read more »
Heart attacks can be overdiagnosed: Although many people die from heart attacks, there are also
many cases where people fear that they have a...read more »
Cluster of diseases with difficult diagnosis issues: There is a well-known list of
medical conditions that are all somewhat difficult to diagnose, and all can present
in a variety of...read more »
Alzheimer's disease over-diagnosed: The well-known disease of Alzheimer's disease
is often over-diagnosed.
Patients tend to assume that any memory loss or forgetulness symptom might be Alzheimer's,
whereas there are many other less...read more »
Dementia may be a drug interaction: A common scenario in aged care is for
a patient to show mental decline to dementia.
Whereas this can, of course, occur due to various...read more »
Tremor need not be Parkinson's disease: There is the tendency to believe that
any tremor symptom, or shakiness, means Parkinson's disease.
The reality is that there are various possibilities, such...read more »
Poorly healing leg rashes a classic sign of chronic disease: Recurring leg rashes,
or poorly healing leg rashes, are a classic sign of undiagnosed diabetes,...read more »
Leg cramps at night a classic sign: The symptom of having leg muscle cramps,
particularly at night, is a classic sign of undiagnosed diabetes.
However, there are also various other causes.
See causes of leg cramps or ...read more »
Rare diseases misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease: A rare genetic
disorder is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease for men in their 50's.
The disease Fragile...read more »
Obesity-related conditions undiagnosed in children: A variety of conditions
are associated with obesity (see obesity), but these tend to be undiagnosed more often
in child patients than in adults.
Some of...read more »
Read more about Misdiagnosis and Retinopathy
Retinopathy: Research Doctors & Specialists
Research related physicians and medical specialists:
- Diabetes & Endocrinology Specialists:
- Cholesterol Specialists:
- Cardiac (Heart) Specialists:
- Eye Health Specialists (Ophthalmology):
- Senior Health Specialists (Geriatrics):
- more specialists...»
Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:
Hospitals & Clinics: Retinopathy
Research quality ratings and patient safety measures
for medical facilities in specialties related to Retinopathy:
Hospital & Clinic quality ratings »
Choosing the Best Hospital:
More general information, not necessarily in relation to Retinopathy,
on hospital performance and surgical care quality:
Retinopathy: Rare Types
Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:
More Retinopathy animations & videos
Research about Retinopathy
Visit our research pages for current research about Retinopathy treatments.
Prevention of Retinopathy
Prevention information for Retinopathy has been compiled from various data sources
and may be inaccurate or incomplete.
None of these methods guarantee prevention of Retinopathy.
- Diabetic control
- Quit smoking
- Control blood pressure
- Careful monitor blood pressure during pregnancy
- Exercise carefully (weights, headstands) - some types of exercise that increase blood pressure can actually aggravate the eyes and a retinopathy condition.
- more preventions...»
Read more about prevention of Retinopathy
Statistics for Retinopathy
Retinopathy: Broader Related Topics
Types of Retinopathy
Retinopathy Message Boards
Related forums and medical stories:
User Interactive Forums
Read about other experiences, ask a question about Retinopathy, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:
Contents for Retinopathy:
User Surveys and Discussion Forums
» Next page: What is Retinopathy?
Medical Tools & Articles:
Tools & Services:
Forums & Message Boards
- Ask or answer a question at the Boards: