In its early stage, diabetic retinopathy presents as little spots of haemorrhaging and microaneurysms across the retina. More advanced stages of this retinal disease then involve larger haemorrhages, areas of oxygen deprivation, and formation of abnormal fragile blood vessels, which leak fluid and blood. The presence of these abnormal blood vessels escalates the category of diabetic retinopathy from non-proliferative to proliferative.
Mild to moderate stages of diabetic retinopathy may go unnoticed without a routine diabetic eye exam by a trained clinician. If there is an accumulation of fluid beneath the macula, the area of the retina responsible for clear central vision, you may notice a sudden blur or distortion of your vision – this is called diabetic macular oedema.