A Guide to Diabetic Retinopathy

November 12, 2012

A Guide to Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy refers to a common diabetic eye condition that happens when the blood vessels change inside the retina. Sometimes, the blood vessels will swell up and leak fluid. Other times, they might totally close off. In even other cases, brand new abnormal blood vessels will grow on the retina’s surface. The retina generally refers to a thin light-sensitive layer of tissue that can be found at the very back of the eyes. Light rays usually focus onto getting into the retina. Once inside, they are then sent to the brain, which will, in turn, send you images as you should see them. There is a tiny area in the middle of the retina called the macula, which is in charge of your pinpoint vision and lets you sew, read and recognize different faces. The part that surrounds on the retina, on the other hand, is known as the peripheral retina, which is in charge of your peripheral vision. A lot of the time, diabetic retinopathy will affect both of the eyes. Those who suffer from it usually don’t notice any visual changes, though – especially early on. However, as time goes by and as the condition gets worse, it may cause irreversible vision loss.

Nonproliferative Retinopathy

Nonproliferative retinopathy would be one of the earliest stages, wherein the damaged retina blood vessels start to leak blood and fluid into the eye. Fat and cholesterol deposits might leak into it, too. Here are some of the changes that nonproliferative retinopathy might cause in the eye:

  • Microaneurysms

  • Retinal hemorrhages

  • Hard exudates

  • Macular edema

  • Macular ischemia

A lot of people who have diabetes tend to have a mild version of this retinopathy and it fortunately doesn’t affect their vision in any way. If their vision does become affected, though, then it would probably be because of macular edema or ischemia.

Proliferative Retinopathy

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy usually happens when a lot of the retina’s blood vessels close up and prevent the blood from flowing properly inside of it. To try and supply more blood into these closed areas, the retina will try to grow new blood vessels. Unfortunately, since these blood vessels aren’t normal, they won’t be able to supply the right kind of blood flow into the retina. Plus, they are usually accompanied by things like scar tissue that might just make the retina detach or wrinkle up. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy might cause extreme vision loss since it affects both the peripheral and the central vision.

Here are some of the ways on how it affects vision overall:

  • Vitreous hemorrhage

  • Traction retinal detachment

  • Neovascular glaucoma


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