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Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy Proliferative Retinopathy
At this advanced stage, the signals sent by the retina for nourishment trigger the growth of new blood vessels. This condition is called proliferative retinopathy. These new blood vessels are abnormal and fragile. They grow along the retina and along the surface of the clear, vitreous gel that fills the inside of the eye. By themselves, these blood vessels do not cause symptoms or vision loss. However, they have thin, fragile walls. If they leak blood, severe vision loss and even blindness can result. Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy
Many more blood vessels are blocked, depriving several areas of the retina with their blood supply. These areas of the retina send signals to the body to grow new blood vessels for nourishment. Moderate Nonproliferative Retinopathy
As the disease progresses, some blood vessels that nourish the retina are blocked. Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy
At this earliest stage, microaneurysms occur. They are small areas of balloon-like swelling in the retina's tiny blood vessels. Source: National Eye Institute, U.S. National Institute of Health. www.nei.nih.gov Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina.