Stages Of Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the result due to the high blood sugar content developed due to diabetes. These sugar levels cause damage at the back of the eye and result in vision loss if left unattended.

It is not possible for an ophthalmologist to detect the presence of diabetic retinopathy in an early stage. It is because the illness does not display any symptoms. The individual suffers from mild, moderate, and severe symptoms of diabetic retinopathy over the years. A better way to minimize the escalation of diabetic retinopathy is by controlling the blood sugar levels and attending eye screening appointments.

How Diabetes Affects The Eyes?

The retina is a light-sensitive layer situated at the back of the eye. It converts the incoming light into electrical signals and sends them to the brain. The brain converts the signals into the images. The retina requires a consistent supply of blood. It receives it through tiny blood vessels. High sugar levels damage these tiny blood vessels leading to the development of diabetic retinopathy.

Stages Of Diabetic Retinopathy

What are the Stages Of Diabetic Retinopathy?

The persistent blood sugar content caused due to high cholesterol and blood pressure damages the blood vessels of the retina in three different stages. It is not necessary that an individual diagnosed with a diabetic retinopathy experience all the three stages. However, if diagnosed in the early stage, lifestyle changes and treatment provide the opportunity to reduce the progression of the stages of diabetic retinopathy.

  1. Background Retinopathy – Stage I

    In this stage of diabetic retinopathy, the individual develops tiny bulges or microaneurysms in the tiny blood vessels that supply blood consistently to the retina. Because of this, chances are high for leakage of blood. An individual detected with stage I has the risk of developing vision problems in the future. Although it does not require treatment, it is possible to prevent the spread when detected early. If not attended, the progression is at 25% within three years.

  2. Pre-proliferative Retinopathy – Stage II

    In pre-proliferative retinopathy stage, the individual suffers from widespread damage to the retina. It occurs in the form of excessive bleeding by blood vessels. In this diabetic retinopathy stage, the risk of vision loss is high. Additionally, the ophthalmologist will ask the patient to attend screening appointments for every 3 or 6 months. The frequent screening helps in monitoring the progression of the stage.

  3. Proliferative Retinopathy – Stage III

    Not receiving an appropriate treatment pushes the patient into the proliferative retinopathy stage. In this diabetic retinopathy stage, the birth of new blood vessels occurs leaving behind scar tissue on the retina. The situation increases the bleeding and leads to retinal detachment. The patient has a high risk of losing vision. Although the ophthalmologist provides stabilization using the available treatment procedures, it is not possible to restore any vision loss.


Upon detecting or identifying the stage of diabetic retinopathy, it is possible for the ophthalmologist to proceed with appropriate treatment. Treatment of patients is available only for those who show stage III diabetic retinopathy or show symptoms of diabetic maculopathy. Regardless of the results obtained through eye examination, it is essential to control diabetes.

Controlling diabetes will be helpful in preventing the spread of diabetic retinopathy. It will thus prevent the vision problems from developing. If the diabetic retinopathy reaches stage III, depending on the advancement, the ophthalmologist opts for laser treatment. The treatment, which creates burns, helps in closing the leakages of the blood vessels. The action will prevent the growth of new blood vessels and accumulation of blood in the region. Depending on the damage to the retina, the patient may have to undergo the laser treatment for more than two or three times.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 12, 2019

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