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For people with diabetes, it is important to become familiar with potential eye problems that could develop due to this disease. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when people develop issues with their vision and issues due to their diabetes diagnoses. These eye problems can be progressive and might even cause irreparable vision loss if not treated well. 

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high levels of glucose, or blood sugar, start to damage the delicate blood vessels in the eye. This damage can also occur in the retina where new abnormal blood vessels can form. As a result, diabetics with this disease could start to experience vision loss, blurry vision, or other unwanted symptoms. 

There are two types of diabetic retinopathy and four stages that occur over time. The two types are known as nonproliferative and proliferative. Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy is when the disease is in the early stages, while proliferative diabetic retinopathy refers to a more advanced type of the disease. 

Here are the four different stages of diabetic retinopathy:

Stage One: Mild Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

The earliest stage of diabetic retinopathy is known as the mild nonproliferative stage. During this time, small areas of swelling begin to take shape in the blood vessels connected to the retina. Due to the small size of these vessels, leaking could start to occur in this area. This leaked fluid can cause the macula to swell. 

Stage Two: Moderate Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

In stage two, a person with diabetic retinopathy may experience more swelling within the blood vessels in their eyes. Unfortunately, this can start to disrupt blood flow to the retina and start causing damage. Blood can also start to accumulate in the macula, along with other fluids. 

Stage Three: Severe Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

As we enter stage three of diabetic retinopathy, we see even more sections of blood vessels become blocked in the retina. This starts to cause a serious reduction in blood flow to the retina, making it difficult for it to function properly. As a result, the body starts to send signals to the eye that more blood vessels are needed in the retinal area. 

Stage Four: Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

In the final period of diabetic retinopathy, we enter an advanced stage. During this time, new blood vessels have started to take shape in the retina. These new vessels are quite delicate and at an increased risk of leaking fluid. Leaked fluid can cause a person to experience a host of eye problems such as blurry vision, a reduction in the field of vision, and blindness.