The Different Kinds of Diabetic Retinopathy

November 12, 2012

The Different Kinds of Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy happens to be the most common kind of diabetic eye disease out there and occurs whenever the retina’s blood vessels change in some way. Sometimes, the retina’s blood vessels will swell up and ooze fluid, or completely close off in worse cases. Sometimes, new and abnormal blood vessels may grow on the retina’s surface, as well. In most cases, both eyes will get affected by diabetic retinopathy, though the people who suffer from it won’t really notice any changes when it comes to their vision early on. However, as time goes by, this could result in irreparable vision loss.

The Different Kinds

In general, there are two kinds of diabetic retinopathy out there:

1. Non-proliferative or Background Retinopathy

This kind of diabetic retinopathy would be the earliest stage, wherein the retina’s damaged blood vessels start to leak excess fluid and sometimes even some blood. Cholesterol deposits and other fat deposits might leak in, as well. This kind of retinopathy can also cause inner eye changes, such as the following:

  • Hard Exudates

    – This means that cholesterol deposits or other fat deposits from the blood ended up leaking in the retina.

  • Microaneurysms

    – This means that the retina’s blood vessels have developed small bulges that usually leak fluid.

  • Macular Edema

    – This means that the macula has thickened or become swollen because fluid has leaked out of the blood vessels of the retina. When this happens, the macula isn’t able to work properly. This is the main reason why some people lose their vision when they have diabetes.

  • Macular Ischemia

    – This means that the small blood vessels have closed and is usually accompanied by blurred vision since the macula doesn’t get enough blood anymore to function properly.

A lot of people who have diabetes actually suffer from mild non-proliferative re

tinopathy, but it doesn’t always affect their overall vision. If it does start to affect their vision, then it is safe to say that this is because of macular ischemia and macular edema.

2. Proliferative Retinopathy

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy usually occurs when a lot of the retina’s blood vessels have already closed and stopped the blood from flowing as much as it has to. So, to try and send more blood into the area where these vessels have closed, the retina will respond by growing more blood vessels. Unfortunately, these blood vessels will be considered as abnormal, so they won’t actually supply the required blood flow. Plus, these vessels will usually develop scar tissue, too, which might make the retina detach or wrinkle up.


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