Retinopathy occurs when the small blood vessels (called capillaries) in the retina become damaged. The retina, located at the back of the eye, sends visual images to the brain where they are perceived. Because the capillaries nourish the retina, retinopathy may lead to partial or complete vision loss.
There are many potential causes of retinopathy. The most common cause is high sugar levels in the blood caused by diabetes. Other causes include premature birth and high blood pressure. Some cases of retinopathy occur for unknown reasons.
The severity of retinopathy varies depending on the underlying cause. Some cases, such as retinopathy of prematurity, may go away without treatments. Others, such as diabetic retinopathy, are more likely to cause permanent vision loss.
Treatment for retinopathy depends on the underlying cause.
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