What are the characteristics of nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy?

Updated: Dec 08, 2020
  • Author: Abdhish R Bhavsar, MD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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Mild nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) is indicated by the presence of at least 1 microaneurysm. Mild NPDR reflects structural changes in the retina caused by the physiological and anatomical effects of diabetes.

More advanced stages of NPDR reflect the increasing retinal ischemia, setting the stage for proliferative changes.

Moderate nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy includes the presence of hemorrhages, microaneurysms, and hard exudates. With this condition, soft exudates, venous beading, and intraretinal microvascular abnormalities (IRMA) occur less frequently than with severe NPDR.

Severe NPDR (4-2-1) is characterized by hemorrhages and microaneurysms in 4 quadrants, with venous beading in at least 2 quadrants and IRMA in at least 1 quadrant.

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