Retinopathy refers to diseases that affect the retina, the collection of light-sensitive cells lining the back half of each eye. The retina contains nerve cells that translate what you see into electrical impulses. These impulses are transmitted to the brain where they are interpreted.
The retina contains many blood vessels. Abnormalities in these vessels cause several forms of retinopathy. Retinopathy can cause partial loss of vision or complete blindness. It can develop slowly or occur suddenly. Retinopathy can get better on its own at any time or it can cause permanent damage, depending on what's causing it and how far it has progressed.
Some types of retinopathy (for example, central serous retinopathy) do not have an obvious cause. Most forms of retinopathy, though, are caused by a known medical illness. Types of retinopathy caused by illnesses include:
Diabetic retinopathy develops in people with diabetes. Two kinds of diabetic retinopathy have the potential to diminish vision: nonproliferative and proliferative retinopathy.