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Retina & Eye Specialists of New Jersey

The Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy

By Sean C. Lalin on December 13, 2013

The Stages of Diabetic RetinopathyThere are numerous eye problems that a person may face as they grow older. Thankfully there are so many different treatments out there that can meet the needs of patients. When you meet with the eye care specialists at our practice, we will be able to help you achieve the best possible health and wellness.

We'd like to take this opportunity to consider the nature of diabetic retinopathy and its various stages. We'll then briefly turn our attention to the various treatment options available.

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication related to diabetes that affects the blood vessels at the back of the eye, making them unable to nourish the retina. The body creates new blood vessels as a response, which can break and leak blood. The eventual damage to the retina can lead to vision loss.

Diabetic retinopathy affects people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and the condition becomes more likely the longer a person has diabetes.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

People who have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes should look out for the following symptoms:

  • Floaters in vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Fluctuations in vision
  • Vision loss
  • Blank portions in vision
  • Problems with color perception

During your annual eye exams, be sure to mention any vision problems. This will help in diagnosing and treating vision problems of various kinds.

The Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy

Broadly, there are two kinds of diabetic retinopathy: non-proliferative and proliferative. It's ideal for the condition to be caught and treated as soon as possible to prevent or mitigate vision loss. Let's look at how the stages of the condition progress.

First Stage - Mild Non-proliferative Retinopathy

During this early stage of diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels of the retina swell, sometimes in a pronounced fashion.

Second Stage - Moderate Non-proliferative Retinopathy

In this next stage of diabetic retinopathy, there begin to be blockages in the blood vessels of the retina.

Third Stage - Severe Non-proliferative Retinopathy

By the third stage of diabetic retinopathy, blood vessel blockages become more abundant, cutting off the blood supply to the retina. In response, the body begins to produce new blood vessels that are not as strong.

Fourth Stage - Proliferative Retinopathy

At this more serious stage of diabetic retinopathy, multiple new blood vessels may be in place along the retina and the vitreous gel. These blood vessels can break and leak, which causes vision loss to occur.

Diagnosing and Treating Diabetic Retinopathy

Once the diabetic retinopathy has been identified and diagnosed, there are numerous treatments to consider. If caught early, patients may be able to avoid invasive care and simply concentrate on managing their blood sugar.

For later stages of diabetic retinopathy, laser surgeries and treatments that affect the vitreous gel of the eye may be considered. More information can be provided during the consultation.

Learn More About Advanced Eye Care Treatment

To learn more about diabetic retinopathy and other topics related to advanced eye care treatment, be sure to contact our New Jersey eye care center today. The team at our practice looks forward to meeting you in person and going over all of your treatment options in greater detail.

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