Retinal disorders are a group of eye conditions that affect the structure and function of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye. The retina plays a crucial role in vision by converting light into neural signals that the brain interprets as visual images. When the retina is damaged or diseased, it can cause a range of symptoms, including blurry or distorted vision, partial or total vision loss, and even blindness. Below, we will explore some of the most common retinal disorders, that we can treat at the Eye and Laser Center.
Macular degeneration is a progressive eye disease that affects the macula, the central part of the retina that is responsible for sharp, detailed vision. There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is the most common form and occurs when the macula thins and breaks down over time, causing gradual vision loss. Wet macular degeneration is less common but more severe and occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow beneath the retina, causing fluid leakage and bleeding that can lead to rapid vision loss. Symptoms may include blurry or distorted vision, difficulty reading or recognizing faces, and reduced color perception.
While there is no cure for macular degeneration, early detection and treatment can slow the progression of the disease and preserve vision. Treatment options may include medication injections, laser therapy, and dietary changes. For dry macular degeneration, vitamin supplements and lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy diet may help slow the progression of the disease. For wet macular degeneration, anti-VEGF medication injections and laser therapy may be used to shrink abnormal blood vessels and prevent further damage to the retina. It is important to seek regular eye exams and promptly report any changes in vision to your ophthalmologist to help manage the progression of macular degeneration.
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that affects people with diabetes and occurs when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina. This can cause the blood vessels to leak fluid or bleed, leading to vision loss. Symptoms may include blurry or fluctuating vision, dark spots or strings, and impaired color vision. Treatment options may include medication injections, laser therapy, and surgical interventions.
Retinal Tear or Detachment:
Retinal tears and detachments are related conditions that affect the retina, the thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye responsible for sending visual signals to the brain. A retinal tear occurs when the retina becomes detached from the underlying tissue, while a retinal detachment occurs when the retina pulls away from the eye completely. Both conditions can be caused by age-related changes in the vitreous, the gel-like substance that fills the inside of the eye, or by trauma or injury to the eye.
Symptoms of retinal tears and detachments may include floaters, flashing lights, and a sudden onset of blurred vision. While retinal tears may be treated with laser surgery or cryopexy to seal the tear and prevent further detachment, retinal detachment is a more serious condition that requires urgent medical attention. Treatment options for retinal detachment may include surgery to reattach the retina or the use of a pneumatic retinopexy, a procedure that uses a gas bubble to push the retina back into place. It is important to seek prompt medical attention if you experience any symptoms of a retinal tear or detachment to prevent permanent vision loss.
Vitreous floaters are tiny specks or cobweb-like shapes that seem to “float” in your visual field. They are caused by small bits of debris floating in the clear, gel-like substance that fills the inside of the eye, known as the vitreous. While vitreous floaters are a common occurrence and are generally harmless, they can be frustrating and may interfere with vision. Some people may also experience flashes of light, which may be a sign of a more serious condition such as a retinal tear or detachment.
In most cases, vitreous floaters do not require treatment and will eventually settle out of sight. However, if you experience a sudden onset of floaters, flashes of light, or a loss of peripheral vision, it is important to seek prompt medical attention to rule out any underlying conditions. Your ophthalmologist may recommend monitoring your symptoms or performing a comprehensive eye exam to determine the cause of your floaters and determine the best course of action. In rare cases, surgery may be recommended to remove large or persistent floaters that are causing significant visual impairment.
Hypertensive retinopathy is a condition that affects the eyes and is caused by long-term high blood pressure or hypertension. The condition can lead to damage to the small blood vessels in the retina, the part of the eye responsible for transmitting visual information to the brain. When these blood vessels become damaged, they can leak fluid or blood, causing swelling or bleeding in the retina. This can lead to a range of vision problems, including blurry or distorted vision, blind spots, or complete vision loss. In addition, hypertensive retinopathy can be a sign of more serious health problems, such as heart disease or stroke. It is essential for individuals with hypertension to have regular eye exams to monitor the health of their eyes and prevent potential vision loss. Treatment for hypertensive retinopathy typically involves managing high blood pressure through lifestyle changes and medication, which can help slow or prevent further damage to the retina.
Retinal Vein Occlusions:
Retinal vein occlusion is a condition that occurs when a vein in the retina becomes blocked, preventing blood from flowing properly through the affected area. This can cause fluid buildup and bleeding in the retina, leading to vision loss. The condition is more common in older adults and individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, and other health conditions that affect blood flow. Symptoms may include blurry or distorted vision, dark spots or strings in the visual field, and sudden vision loss. Treatment options may include medication injections, laser therapy, and surgery. It is important to seek medical attention promptly if you experience any symptoms of a retinal vein occlusion, as early treatment can improve outcomes and prevent further vision loss.
Retinal Artery Occlusions:
Retinal artery occlusion is a condition that occurs when a blockage in an artery in the retina restricts blood flow to the affected area. This can cause sudden, painless vision loss and may be a medical emergency. The condition is often caused by a blood clot, but may also be due to other underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease. Symptoms of retinal artery occlusion may include sudden vision loss, dark spots or shadows in the visual field, and distorted vision. Treatment options are limited, but may include medications and surgery to improve blood flow and prevent further vision loss. It is important to seek medical attention promptly if you experience any symptoms of retinal artery occlusion, as early intervention can improve outcomes and prevent permanent vision loss.
Retinitis pigmentosa is a rare genetic disorder that causes the breakdown of the photoreceptor cells in the retina. This can result in progressive vision loss, starting with difficulty seeing at night and peripheral vision loss, and eventually leading to central vision loss. Treatment options are limited, and may include the use of low-vision aids and other assistive devices.