Diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes, occurs when the tiny blood vessels that supply the retina are damaged. In the milder form of the condition, blood vessels in the retina may leak, causing part of the retina to swell. In the later stages, tiny, new blood vessels grow from the retina into the fluid (vitreous) of the inner eye and can rupture and bleed into the eye, causing sudden vision loss. Scar tissue formation around the new vessels also can pull on the retina, causing a retinal detachment. Knowing this, the importance of regular eye exams becomes quite obvious. In some cases, an eye exam will reveal that a person has diabetes even before he or she knows it. If you have diabetes, your body does not use and store sugar properly. High blood-sugar levels can damage blood vessels in the retina, the nerve layer at the back of the eye that senses light and helps to send images to the brain. November is Diabetic Eye Disease Month. The best way to prevent diabetes-related eye problems is to keep blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible.