Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy in Optometry and Ophthalmology
Nonproliferative & Proliferative Retinopathy
Diabetic Retinopathy tends to appear and progress in stages beginning with Mild Nonproliferative, progressing to Moderate Nonproliferative Retinopathy, further advancing to Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy and without proper attention developing into the most severe stage, Proliferative Retinopathy.
Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy
Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy is the earliest stage of Diabetic Retinopathy. It is characterized by the presence of “dot” and “blot” hemorrhages and “microaneurysms” in the Retina found during your eye examination. Microaneurysms are areas of balloon like swelling of the tiny blood vessels in the Retina caused by the weakening of their wall. Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy can be present without any change in your vision. Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy usually does not require treatment unless it progresses or if is accompanied by Diabetic Macular Edema. If you have Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy, Dr. Graf will make specific recommendations about how often you will need to be reexamined and whether any additional testing might be required.
Moderate Nonproliferative Retinopathy
Moderate Nonproliferative Retinopathy is the second and slightly more severe stage of Diabetic Retinopathy. During this stage, some of the small blood vessels in the Retina may actually become blocked. The blockage of these tiny blood vessels causes a decrease in the supply of nutrients and oxygen to certain areas of the Retina.
Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy
Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy is the next stage of Diabetic Retinopathy. Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy is characterized by a significant number of small blood vessels in the Retina actually becoming blocked. As more blood vessels become blocked, it results in areas of the Retina being deprived of nourishment and oxygen. A lack of sufficient oxygen supply to the Retina results in a condition called “Retinal Ischemia”. To attempt to compensate for “Retinal Ischemia”, these areas of the Retina then send signals to the body to stimulate the growth of new blood vessels in order to try and reestablish the supply of oxygen.