Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy in Portland Maine

By Scott Steidel, M.D.

Diabetic Retinopathy typically appears and then progresses in stages. These stages include the following: 

Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy
Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy is the earliest stage of diabetic retinopathy. It is characterized by the presence of “dot” and “blotch” hemorrhages and “microaneurysms” in the Retina during your eye examination. Microaneurysms are areas of balloon like swelling of the tiny blood vessels in the Retina. Early Nonproliferative Retinopathy can be present without any change in your vision. Nonproliferative Retinopathy usually does not require treatment unless it progresses or if it is accompanied by Diabetic Macular Edema.  If you have Nonproliferative Retinopathy, your doctor will make specific recommendations about how often you will need to be reexamined.

Moderate Nonproliferative Retinopathy 
Nonproliferative RetinopathyModerate Nonproliferative Retinopathy is a slightly more severe stage of Diabetic Retinopathy. During this stage, some of the small blood vessels become increasingly damaged. This damage causes a decrease in the supply of nutrients and oxygen to certain areas of the retina.

The best way to diagnose injury to small blood vessels in the retina is by having a diagnostic test called an Intravenous Fluorescein Angiogram (FA).  The Intravenous Fluorescein Angiogram is performed right in our office. We perform the FA by injecting a dye into a vein in your arm and then, using a specialized camera, take a series of photographs of the retina as the dye circulates throughout the retinal blood vessels. Using the FA, it is possible for the Eyecare Medical Group Vitreoretinal Surgeons & Retina Specialists to precisely and directly observe the circulation and the integrity of the blood vessels in the retina so that they can identify any blood vessels that may be blocked.

Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy 
Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy is the next progression of diabetic retinopathy.  Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy is characterized by a significant number of small blood vessels in the retina becoming blocked. As a greater number of blood vessels become blocked, it results in more areas of the retina being deprived of nourishment and oxygen.  A lack of sufficient oxygen supply to the retina results in a condition called “Retinal Ischemia”. 

Proliferative Retinopathy
Proliferative RetinopathyProliferative Retinopathy is a stage of diabetic retinopathy that carries a significant risk of vision loss. The retina responds to a lack of oxygen, or ischemia, by attempting to compensate for the reduced circulation by growing new, but abnormal blood vessels-a process called neovascularization. When Retinal Neovascularization is present, you have progressed into the stage of diabetic retinopathy called Proliferative Retinopathy.  Retinal Neovascularization includes abnormal blood vessels that are extremely fragile and tend to break easily and bleed into the Vitreous. If left untreated, Proliferative Retinopathy may result in hemorrhaging into the Vitreous or lead to scarring and retinal detachment with profound vision loss, even blindness.

It may be possible for patients to have early Proliferative Retinopathy and Retinal Neovascularization with good vision. So, even if Proliferative Retinopathy and Retinal Neovascularization do not appear to be causing any vision loss, it is critical that it is treated as quickly as possible to stop disease progression.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes or even if you are just glucose intolerant, you may be at risk for diabetic retinopathy and you should have a thorough diabetic eye examination at Eyecare Medical Group in Portland, Maine. Please call us at 888-374-2020.

Eyecare Medical Group provides diagnosis and treatment of all stages of diabetic eye disease, diabetic eye problems or diabetic retinopathy in Maine and is conveniently located for patients from Auburn, Augusta, Bangor, Bath, Berwick, Biddeford, Bridgton, Brunswick, Cape Neddick, Casco Bay, Cumberland Center, Eliot, Freeport, Gardiner, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Kittery, Lewiston, Old Orchard Beach, Portland, Sanford, Scarborough, South Portland, Springvale, Topsham, Waterville, Westbrook, Winslow, Wiscasset, Yarmouth, Portland, Skowhegan and York Maine.

Eyecare Medical Group in Portland, Maine is conveniently located for patients with Cataracts interested in
Cataract Surgery & Lens Implants (IOL), LASIK, Diabetic Eye Problems, Macular Degeneration (AMD), Glaucoma,
Diseases and Surgery of the Retina & Cornea including Retinal Detachment & Cornea Transplants.