Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the eye's retina that occurs with long-term or uncontrolled diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to small blood vessels of the eye. Having more severe diabetes for a longer period of time increases the chance of getting retinopathy. Retinopathy is also more likely to occur earlier and be more severe if your diabetes has been poorly controlled. Almost everyone who has had diabetes for more than 30 years will show signs of diabetic retinopathy.To diagnose and manage diabetic retinopathy before irreversible damage is done, people with diabetes should have routine eye examinations at least once per year. Diabetes is also a risk factor for glaucoma, so annual glaucoma screenings are also critically important.