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Understanding Diabetic Retinopathy

Summary: Below are the contents of the booklet called "Understanding Diabetic Retinopathy."

What is diabetic retinopathy?

To understand diabetic retinopathy it helps to know a little bit about how your eye works. The lining at the back of your eye is called the retina. The job of the retina is to help change what you see into messages that travel along the sight nerve to the brain.

In the centre of the retina is an area called the macula which is really important for clear, sharp vision. Diabetic retinopathy is the name used for two different types of changes in the retina which can affect your sight:

  • diabetic macular edema – this is where leaky blood vessels affect the important central part of the retina called the macula. It is the more common eye change; 
  • proliferative diabetic retinopathy – this is where fragile new blood vessels form gradually on the surface of the retina.


For further information and support please contact:

Diabetes Ireland

Phone: 1850 909 909

NCBI – Working for people with sight loss

Phone: 1850 334 353

Fighting Blindness – Cure. Support. Empower.

Phone: 01 709 3050

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  • The information provided here is intended to educate the reader about certain medical issues and should not be used for clinical diagnosis.