The Different Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy and the Treatment Options Available

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that occurs in people with diabetes that can lead to serious vision loss. As high blood sugar levels begin to affect the vessels in your eye, you become vulnerable to several retinal conditions that could potentially cause blindness. Since this condition moves through several stages, it’s helpful to know where you are regarding the progression of this disease. In some cases, you might even be able to prevent moving to the next stage by working with your retina doctor in Brooklyn to determine the most effective forms of treatment for your current condition.

Mild Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

A recent study found that 26.43% of people with diabetes had some degree of diabetic retinopathy, which means that staying on top of your eye health is critical. Fortunately, only around 5% of these cases were at a vision-threatening stage of the disease. In this early stage, you might not have noticeable symptoms, but you can still benefit from making lifestyle changes that halt the progression of your condition. Typically, this involves monitoring your blood sugar levels and managing your diabetes.

Moderate Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

During this stage, the tiny blood vessels in your retina can begin to swell and block your eyes from being properly nourished. When you first enter this stage, you might not notice any major symptoms. But, around one in 15 people with diabetes will develop diabetic macular edema at some point that requires treatment to lower the swelling in their eye.

Severe Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

As the blood vessels in your retina become blocked, your body may try to compensate by making new ones. Unfortunately, these new blood vessels tend to be weak and fragile, which can cause them to leak fluid into your eye. When this happens, you may notice blurry vision along with dark spots in your field of vision. At this stage, your eye doctor may recommend anti-VEGF injections to reduce swelling along with other medications that stop the development of new blood vessels.

Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

At the most advanced stage of this disease, new, weak blood vessels continue to grow in the eye that leak and cause scar tissue to form. The scar tissue can place pressure on the retina and lead to retinal detachment. If you experience a retinal detachment, then you might notice a reduced field of vision along with potential blindness. Vitreoretinal surgery may be necessary to correct retinal tears and to remove excess fluid and scar tissue from your eye.