What is background retinopathy in diabetes?

Background retinopathy is a type of damage to the retina of the eye, marked by bleeding, fluid accumulation and abnormal dilation of the blood vessels. Background retinopathy is an early stage of diabetic retinopathy. It is also called simple or nonproliferative retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy is a general term for all disorders of the retina caused by diabetes. There are two major types of retinopathy: nonproliferative (capillaries in the back of the eye balloon and form pouches) and proliferative (a more serious form in which the blood vessels are so damaged they close off).

The longer you've had diabetes, the more likely you are to have retinopathy. Almost everyone with type 1 diabetes will eventually have nonproliferative retinopathy. And most people with type 2 diabetes will also get it. But the retinopathy that destroys vision, proliferative retinopathy, is far less common. People who keep their blood sugar levels closer to normal are less likely to have retinopathy or to have milder forms.

The researchers in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial found that after 10 years, intensive management reduced the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy by 76 percent. Among individuals who already had early signs of eye disease before entering the trial, intensive management slowed the progression of retinopathy by 54 percent.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.