Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a common complication of diabetes and is a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is characterized by progressive damage to the blood vessels of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that is necessary for good vision. DR usually affects both eyes.
Your risk of developing DR is reduced by controlling your diabetes. That includes good control of blood sugar, blood pressure and lipid (blood fat) problems. Early diagnosis of DR and timely treatment reduce the risk of vision loss; however, as many as 50% of patients are not getting their eyes examined or are diagnosed too late for treatment to be effective.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC.gov