Diabetes is a systemic disease; it can affect the eyes. Diabetes weakens blood vessels throughout the body, including the fragile ones within the retina. When blood vessels weaken to the point of leaking, the result can be swelling of the retinal tissue or bleeding within the eye; both of which can diminish vision. Anyone who has had diabetes for more than 10 years is at high risk for diabetic retinopathy. If detected early, it can be monitored and treated. Because most diabetics do not experience symptoms in their eyes in the early years, yearly exams, early detection and treatment are the key to preventing loss of vision.