The most common types of retinopathy are:
- Proliferative retinopathy
Proliferative retinopathy is development of new blood vessels (neovascularisation) on the inward surface of the retina or the vitreous humour (the clear gel inside the eyeball), which can threaten your vision by causing the retina to detach or blood to leak into the eye cavity. In this condition small blood vessels grow from the surface of the retina.
- Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy
Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR), also known as preproliferative diabetic retinopathy, is the early stage of the disease in which symptoms are mild or practically nonexistent. In NPDR, the blood vessels in the retina are weakened. Tiny bulges in the blood vessels, called microaneurysms, may leak fluid into the retina. This leakage may lead to swelling of the macula.
This condition is called pre-proliferative because it typically develops into proliferative retinopathy when new vessels develop.
- Hypertensive retinopathy
High blood pressure can cause problems with blood vessels, including thickening of small arteries, vessel blockages and bleeding. As your blood pressure rises, the optic nerve may begin to swell, which affects your vision.
Symptoms of retinopathy
The symptoms you may experience are:
- Blurry, hazy vision
- Impaired colour vision
- Floaters in your field of vision
- Colourless and transparent strings in your field of vision
- Inability to see clearly at night
- Decreased vision due to patches and streaks
- Permanent or partial loss of vision.
Complications of retinopathy
Here are some of the complications you may face if you have diabetic retinopathy:
- Detached retina: This can occur when scar tissue present in the eye pulls or detaches the retina from the back of the eye. This causes floaters and flashes to appear suddenly in your field of vision. If this detachment isn't corrected through surgery, it can cause vision loss.
- Vitreous haemorrhage: This can happen when blood vessels leak into your eye cavity, which stops light from reaching your retina, causing partial loss of vision. Other symptoms may include extreme sensitivity to light, and floaters in the field of vision.
The importance of early and regular eye health checks
Diabetic retinopathy can occur if your blood sugar has become too high and remains at a high level. You may not notice until you experience decreased vision. It is important to have regular eye examinations, particularly if you have diabetes.