So many cases of diabetic retinopathy, which does not develop overnight and takes time, can be prevented.

It is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S., says the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

How long does it take for diabetic retinopathy to develop?
Well here’s some unsettling news: It may already be present with type 2 diabetes at the time of diagnosis.

On the other hand, when it appears in type 1 diabetics, it’s usually five years after diagnosis.

Having diabetes for 15 years significantly increases the odds of having the related retinopathy.

• 98 percent of type 1 diabetics will have retinopathy.
• 78 percent of type 2 diabetics will have some degree of it.

Even the 10 year mark is a dangerous indicator of this complication. Upon being diagnosed with diabetes, you should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam, and then every year for the rest of your life.

The retina contains blood vessels. Chronically uncontrolled diabetes (resulting in excessive blood sugar levels) damages these blood vessels.

The term retinopathy literally means disease of the retina. There are several types caused by diabetes.

One type is called non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy. NPDR can occur at any point after one is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes – including at the time of diagnosis when the patient has an immediate eye exam.

However, this doesn’t indicate how long it took for this form of diabetes retinopathy to develop.

That’s because a person could have type 2 diabetes for a very long time before getting diagnosed.

There may be no visual symptoms of NPDR even though an eye exam can reveal vascular damage.

This form of diabetic retinopathy is rarely present upon diagnosis of type 1 disease and usually takes up to five years to develop, though it may take only three years from diagnosis.

Sources long it takes to develop diabetes retinopathy