If you have diabetes, you should be alert to the potential of developing diabetic retinopathy. It estimated that 40 to 45 percent of patients diagnosed with diabetes also have some stage of diabetic retinopathy.
Untreated, diabetic retinopathy can lead to vision loss in one of two ways. First, proliferative retinopathy is a situation in which the tiny blood vessels of the retina leak blood in the center of the eye and blur vision. Second, macular edema is a condition in which fluid leaks into the center of the macula, causing it to swell, resulting in blurred vision.
Stages of diabetic retinopathy
There are four stages of the disease:
- Mild nonproliferative retinopathy is the earliest stage. At this stage microaneurysms (small balloon-like swellings) occur in the retina’s blood vessels.
- Moderate nonproliferative retinopathy. At this stage some of the retina’s blood vessels become blocked.
- Severe nonproliferative retinopathy. At this stage many of the retina’s blood vessels become blocked, deprive the retina of its necessary blood supply, and cause the development and growth of new blood vessels.
- Proliferative retinopathy is an advanced stage of the disease. As new retinal blood vessels develop and grow abnormally, their fragile walls may leak blood and cause severe vision loss.