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Proliferative vs. Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy: What’s the Difference?

Diabetic retinopathy affects people with diabetes, and occurs as a result of high blood sugar over an extended period of time. If left untreated, it can cause blindness, because excess blood glucose (sugar) destroys the blood vessels in the back of the eye so the retina can’t receive proper to maintain vision.

The early stage of this eye disease is called nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy, when the blood vessels are leaking and causing sight distortion. As the disease progresses, it becomes proliferative retinopathy. At this stage, new blood vessels grow around the retina and vitreous humor, and these may bleed if the problem is not caught and treated.

Diabetic retinopathy symptoms include clouded vision and scar detaching the retina, both caused by bleeding blood vessels in the eye. Sometimes there are no early signs, and you may not notice any vision problems until the condition is severe. Or you may experience loss of central vision when reading or driving, less ability to see color, blurry vision, or small spots/floaters.

Since nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy can be treated before it seriously affects your vision if caught soon enough, it’s important to have an ophthalmologist examine your eyes every year and if you notice any of the symptoms. Laser surgery is the recommended diabetic retinopathy treatment, and can usually prevent serious vision loss or disease progression if the condition is diagnosed and treated in time. Prevention and early detection are the best “treatments,” so be sure to make every eye appointment and pay attention to any telltale symptoms.

The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.