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Retinopathy: Introduction

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: 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 from diabetes. 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 »

Retinopathy: Symptoms

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 vessels of the retina may ...more symptoms »

Retinopathy: Treatments

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 ...more treatments »

Retinopathy: Misdiagnosis

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 loss of vision, and ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Retinopathy

Home Diagnostic Testing

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Wrongly Diagnosed with Retinopathy?

Retinopathy: Related Patient Stories

Types of Retinopathy

Retinopathy: Complications

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Causes of Retinopathy

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Disease Topics Related To Retinopathy

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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 full report »

Misdiagnosis and Retinopathy

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Retinopathy: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Hospitals & Clinics: Retinopathy

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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:

Retinopathy: Animations

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...»

Statistics for Retinopathy

Retinopathy: Broader Related Topics

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