Diabetic retinopathy is a progressive eye disease that affects people with diabetes and is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. It is characterized by a series of stages, each with its own set of symptoms and treatment options.
- Stage 1: Background retinopathy – This is the earliest stage of diabetic retinopathy and is characterized by small changes in the blood vessels in the retina. At this stage, there may be no noticeable symptoms, but regular eye exams can detect these changes.
- Stage 2: Pre-proliferative retinopathy – In this stage, there is a progression of the changes seen in stage 1, including the formation of microaneurysms, which are small bulges in the blood vessels. This stage can increase the risk of vision loss.
- Stage 3: Proliferative retinopathy – This is the most advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy, characterized by the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels on the surface of the retina. These vessels can bleed and cause vision loss.
Diabetic maculopathy is a specific type of diabetic retinopathy that affects the macula, the central part of the retina that is responsible for sharp, detailed vision. It can cause vision loss or blindness.
Unfortunately, without a detailed eye exam, it is not possible to determine which stage of diabetic retinopathy you are at. Regular eye exams are important for early detection and prompt treatment of diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetes, it is recommended to have comprehensive eye exams at least once a year.