Diabetes is a condition in which the body's ability to process and store sugar has been impaired. Among the characteristics of the disease are gradual changes in blood vessels. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes caused by the deterioration of blood vessels nourishing the retina at the back of the eye.
As the blood vessels weaken, they may leak fluid or blood into the clear vitreous mass that fills the eye, or become enlarged, damaging the delicate retina.
Macular degeneration is a deterioration of the deepest layers of the retina in the area of the macula. The actual cause of macular degeneration is under intense study but it is usually associated with the aging process. However, genetic or hereditary tendencies can cause macular degeneration in childhood or make it much more likely to develop in patients over 55. The deterioration appears to be related to a build up of oxidants and other metabolic waste products in the pigmented layer of the retina.
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