What is the retina?
The retina is a sensory membrane that rests alongside the back of the eyeball. It contains light-sensitive cells – or photoreceptors – that are responsible for determining color and light intensity. This visual information is converted into neural impulses and passed along to the brain.
Which conditions affect the retina?
Because the retina is responsible for converting light into neural impulses, damage to this membrane can significantly harm your vision – perhaps even permanently.
Conditions that affect the retina include:
- Macular degeneration
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 60. AMD is a breakdown of the eye’s macula, an area in the retina that allows you to do very detailed tasks like read small print or sew a button back on a shirt.There are two forms of AMD:
- Most common form categorized by retina deterioration
- Symptoms include central vision blurriness and blind spots
- Can turn into Wet AMD at anytime
- Categorized by abnormal blood vessel growth and leakage of fluid/blood into macula
- Can cause objects to appear wavy or lopsided
- Rapid progression of symptoms
While some factors like family history and genetics can’t be controlled, you can reduce your chances of developing AMD by taking preventative measures such as maintaining a healthy weight, keeping your blood pressure in check, and avoiding smoking. Early detection is key to treat it and safeguard your vision and lifestyle for years to come.
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Diabetic retinopathy is a complication stemming from Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is generally categorized as either early (non-proliferative) or advanced (proliferative) diabetic retinopathy.In the early stages, blood vessels can weaken and leak fluid and blood into the eyes. As the disease progresses, the damaged blood vessels can close off causing the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels. The growth of these new blood vessels eventually results in scar that can cause the retina to detach. It can also lead to hemorrhages and glaucoma.
Symptoms can include:
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Seeing spots or floaters
- Color impaired vision
- Vision loss
Mild cases can be treated through careful management of your diabetes, but advanced cases may require surgery or laser treatment. If you have diabetes, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, see your primary care provider as scheduled, and continue receiving regular, comprehensive eye exams.
- Hypertensive retinopathy
- Hypertensive retinopathy is a complication resulting from high blood pressure. Over time, high blood pressure may cause the retina’s blood vessels to narrow, reducing the amount of blood that oxygenates the eye.Symptoms of hypertensive retinopathy include:
- Reduced vision
- Eye swelling
- Burst blood vessels
- Double vision
People with high blood pressure should regularly visit their eye care provider to make sure their retinas remain healthy. Treatment for this condition typically involves addressing high blood pressure concerns with lifestyle changes and medication.
- Retinal detachment
- Retinal detachment is a medical emergency in which the retina detaches from the surrounding blood vessels, starving the retina of essential oxygen and nutrients. Leaving this condition untreated can lead to permanent vision loss.Symptoms of a detached retina include:
- Flashes of light in one or both eyes
- Blurred vision
- Sudden appearance of floaters, i.e. tiny specs that drift through your vision
- Reduced peripheral vision that worsens over time
- A curtain-like shadow over your field of view
- If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s vital that you see a doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will examine your retina to determine if you have a retinal tear – a milder condition that can lead to detachment – or a complete detachment. In both instances, surgery will be necessary to protect your vision.
Are you suffering from a disease, disorder, or condition that affects your retina? Contact us today to learn how South East Eye can help you.
Anatomy of the Retina