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How Long Does It Take for Diabetic Retinopathy to Develop?

Submitted by salandvision on February 11, 2020 - 6:55 pm

Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes which affects the small blood vessels in the lining at the back of the eye. This lining is called the retina. A healthy retina is necessary for good eyesight. Diabetic retinopathy can cause the blood vessels in the retina to leak or become blocked and damage your sight.

Typically, diabetic patients will develop diabetic retinopathy after they have had diabetes for between 3-5 years. In the early stages, diabetic retinopathy will not affect sight, but if it progresses, eventually sight will be affected.

Diabetic retinopathy has four stages; they are mild, moderate, severe non-proliferative retinopathy and proliferative retinopathy.

Mild Non-Proliferative Retinopathy – In the earliest stage of retinopathy, micro-aneurysms (small balloon-like swellings) occur in the retina’s tiny blood vessels.  

Moderate Non-Proliferative Retinopathy – At this stage, some of the retina’s blood vessels become blocked.

Severe Non-Proliferative Retinopathy – As the disease progresses further, many more of the blood vessels become blocked, depriving the retina of its necessary blood supply. Due to this short supply of blood, the retina sends signals to grow new blood vessels for nourishment. 

Proliferative Retinopathy – In this advanced stage, the retina signals trigger the growth of new blood vessels; these are abnormal and fragile. They grow along the surface of the clear, vitreous gel that fills the inside of the eye. As these new retinal blood vessels develop and grow abnormally, their fragile walls may leak blood and cause severe vision loss or blindness.

If you have diabetes, you should be aware of the potential of developing diabetic retinopathy. It is estimated that 40 to 45%t of patients diagnosed with diabetes also have some stage of diabetic retinopathy. Since there are no well-known symptoms for retinopathy, it is advisable for diabetic patients to maintain regular vision exams. To schedule an appointment in Dallas, contact Saland Vision at 214-691-8000 or website