A brief description can be viewed below. Please click on the ADA link here to visit the American Diabetic Association for further information.

Diabetes is a disease that affects the small blood vessels (capillaries) throughout the whole body. These vessels are abundant the kidneys and eyes. Damage to the vessels in the back of the eye from elevated blood sugar is called diabetic retinopathy.

The Retina is the small layer on the back of the eye responsible for sensing light and color. Any damage to the retina results in loss of sight. The retina is rich in blood vessels which can be damaged be elevated blood sugar. For this reason, the American Diabetes Association recommends that patients with type I and type II diabetes have an annual dilated eye exam.

Types of Diabetic Retinopathy

There are two types of diabetic retinopathy:

  • Proliferative (PDR)
  • Nonproliferative (NPDR)

Nonproliferation diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) is also commonly referred to as background retinopathy. This early form of diabetic retinopathy occurs when the smallest blood vessels of the retina are damaged and begin to leak into the retina. Many people with diabetes develop NPDR without any visual loss to alert them to the presence of the damage that is starting to occur in their eyes.

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) Is a more advanced form of damage. It carries a high risk of vision loss and follows after NPDR has been left untreated. PDR occurs when new blood vessels grow in the retina in response to the damage that has occurred. These new blood vessels grow (neovascularization) are abnormal and result in problematic complications for the retina including:

  • Vitreous hemorrhage
  • Retinal Detachment
  • Retinal Tear
  • Secondary Glaucoma (neovascular)