Glaucoma Eye Surgeons - Dr. Murray McFadden and Dr. Carolyn Anderson

This page last updated
February 16, 2003
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Types of Diabetic Retinopathy

Background retinopathy is an early stage of diabetic retinopathy.

In this stage, tiny blood vessels within the retina become damaged and leak blood or fluid. background retinopathyLeaking fluid causes the retina to swell or to form deposits called exudates.

While this stage usually doesn't affect your vision, it can lead to more sight threatening stages. For this reason, background retinopathy is considered a warning sign.

Sometimes the leaking fluid collects in the macula, the part of the retina that lets us see fine details, like letters or numbers. This problem is called macular edema. Reading and close work may become more difficult because of this condition. Macular edema usually requires prompt laser treatment.

proliferative retinopathyProliferative retinopathy
describes the changes that occur when new, abnormal blood vessels begin growing on the surface of the retina.

The abnormal growth is called neovascularization. These new blood vessels have weaker walls and may break and bleed. The vitreous is the clear, jelly-like substance that fills the centre of the eye. Leaking blood can cloud the vitreous and partially or completely block the light passing through the pupil towards the retina, causing blurred and distorted images or in the worst cases complete blindness.

retinal detachmentThese abnormal blood vessels may grow scar tissue that can pull the retina away from the back of the eye. This is called a retinal detachment. If left untreated, a retinal detachment can cause severe vision loss.

Abnormal blood vessels may also grow around the pupil (on the iris) causing glaucoma by increasing pressure within the eye.

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is the most serious form of diabetic retinal disease. It affects up to 20% of diabetics and can cause severe loss of sight, including blindness.

Materials produced here are not intended to provide medical information. Rather, the materials are presented for informational purposes only.
None of the materials presented may be relied upon by any person for any medical, diagnostic or treatment reasons whatsoever. None of the materials presented here may be relied upon by any person for purpose other than informational purposes without the express written consent of Dr. Murray McFadden or the person indicated as the owner of the relevant materials. Dr. Murray McFadden disclaims any liability for any injury or other damages resulting from the review or use of the information obtained here. Dr. Murray McFadden asks that any person reviewing the materials presented here obtain specific medical advice and answers to specific medical questions, by a qualified eye doctor.