Understanding The Four Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy - SightMD Skip to main content

October 24, 2022

Understanding The Four Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy

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The condition of “diabetic retinopathy” occurs when people who have been diagnosed with diabetes suffer vision loss – or even blindness. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the blood vessels in a person’s retina – which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye – become affected.

If you or anyone you know has diabetes, you should especially make it a point to have your vision checked once a year, along with a comprehensive dilated eye exam. That’s because there are no immediate or obvious symptoms for diabetic retinopathy. It is important to understand that should this condition should be discovered early enough, steps may be taken to save your vision.

What are the four stages of diabetic retinopathy?

The term “proliferative” refers to whether or not there is an abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina. The term “nonproliferative” means that new blood vessels are not growing in the retina. As a result, this condition is commonly referred to as nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR).

The four stages of diabetic retinopathy, are classified the following –

1. Mild Nonproliferative: As diabetic retinopathy starts to develop, the retina’s blood vessels will undergo tiny swellings. The areas of swelling are “micro aneurysms.”

2. Moderate Nonproliferative: As the micro aneurysms develop and increase, they will interfere with blood flow to the retina, which in turn affect the macula.

3. Severe Nonproliferative: Eventually, the blood vessels will become blocked, which results in a huge decrease in blood flow to the retina. The body then tries to grow new blood cells in the retina.

4. Proliferative: At the most advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy, new – and fragile – blood vessels take form in the retina. Since these blood vessels are fragile, a high risk of fluid leakage may occur. Resulting problems include blurred or reduced vision, or possibly blindness.

While diabetic retinopathy is a serious condition, it is treatable by the patient’s discipline and ability to manage his or her diabetes. And, as stated above, by also getting regularly scheduled eye exams, the patient’s vision will be closely monitored, and this condition will be controlled.

If you are concerned about the possibility that you may have diabetic retinopathy, the eye care professionals at SightMD are highly experienced and here to answer any of your questions. Contact us today to request an appointment online to have your vision checked.