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The retina is a light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. When light enters the eye, the retina changes the light into nerve signals. The retina then sends these signals along the optic nerve to the brain. Without a retina, the eye cannot communicate with the brain, making vision impossible. Below are retinal diseases/disorders that can disrupt or even cause vision loss. If you feel you have symptoms to any of the retina related eye conditions below please contact our office to schedule an appointment.

Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is a term used for over 1500 conditions that affect central vision. Sharp, clear central vision is processed by the macula (also sometimes called the fovea), which is the central part of the retina and is about the size of a grain of rice. Macular degeneration (MD) occurs when the layer of the retina responsible for nourishing and carrying away waste products, starts to function less effectively as it ages. Cells in the macula break down, causing a gradual or sudden loss of sight in the central part of vision but leaving the peripheral vision unaffected. Although people do not lose all their sight, reading, recognition of faces, watching television and driving are very difficult or impossible.

What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?

Early signs of macular degeneration include straight lines appearing wavy, fuzzy vision, and shadowy areas in your central vision. Our doctors may find indicators before you have any symptoms, so regular eye exams with an ophthalmologist are very important for an early diagnosis.

What can I do about macular degeneration?

Since there is no treatment currently available to completely restore vision loss due to macular degeneration, early diagnosis and treatment with some drugs may be able to reverse at least some loss in people affected by age-related macular degeneration.

Diabetic Eye Disease
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition occurring in persons with diabetes. Over time, the disease causes progressive damage to the retina, the sensitive lining at the back of the eye. Diabetes is a disease that interferes with the body’s ability to use and store sugar, which can cause many health problems. Too much sugar in the blood can cause damage throughout the body. Over time, diabetes affects the circulatory system of the retina inside the eye.

Diabetic retinopathy is the result of damage to the tiny blood vessels that feed the retina. They leak blood and other fluids that cause swelling of retinal tissue and clouding of vision. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they will develop some symptoms of diabetic retinopathy. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy may cause complete blindness.

What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:

• Seeing spots or floaters in your field of vision
• Blurred vision
• Having a dark or empty spot in the center of your vision
• Difficulty seeing well at night

Prolonged periods of high blood sugar in diabetic patients can lead to the accumulation of fluid in the lens of the. This changes the curvature of the lens and leads to blurred vision. The blurring of distance vision as a result of lens swelling subsides once the blood sugar levels are brought down. Proper control of blood sugar levels in diabetes patients slows the onset and progression of diabetic retinopathy.

Often there are no visual symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. That is why the American Optometric Association recommends that everyone with diabetes have a comprehensive dilated eye examination once a year. Early detection and treatment can limit the potential for significant vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.

What can I do about diabetic retinopathy?

Treatment of diabetic retinopathy may require surgery to seal blood vessels within the eye or to discourage new leaky blood vessels from forming. Injections of medications into the eye may be needed to decrease inflammation. In advanced cases, a surgery to replace the vitreous fluid in the back of the eye may be performed. Diabetic patients can prevent or slow the development of diabetic retinopathy by taking appropriately prescribed medication, sticking to a healthy diet, exercising regularly, controlling high blood pressure and avoiding smoking and alcohol.

Flashes and Floaters
You may sometimes see small specks or clouds moving in your field of vision. They are called floaters. You can often see them when looking at a plain background, like a blank wall or blue sky. Floaters are actually tiny clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous, which is the clear jelly-like fluid that fills the inside of your eye.

While these objects look like they are in front of your eye, they are actually floating inside. What you see are the shadows they cast on the retina, the nerve layer at the back of the eye that senses light and allows you to see. Floaters can have different shapes: little dots, circles, lines, clouds or cobwebs.

Floaters can be harmless, but can also be a sign of a retinal tear that causes a release of fluid that causes new floaters. You should see your ophthalmologist as soon as possible if:

• Even one new floater appears suddenly
• You see sudden flashes of light
• You notice loss of any peripheral (side) vision

What can I do about flashes and floaters?

Eye floaters typically do not require medical treatment. Extensive amounts of floaters that affect overall vision may require a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy. In a vitrectomy, the vitreous fluid of the eye and floating debris are removed and replaced with a salt solution.

Retinal Detachment
Retinal detachment occurs when the retina is separated from the inside of your eye and can no longer transmit images properly through the optic nerve to the brain. The center of the retina is the macula. If the macula is involved in the detachment, the vision is often extremely blurred. If the macula is not involved in the area of detachment, there may be some loss of peripheral vision.

What are the symptoms of a retinal detachment?

The retina can tear if the vitreous gel pulls away from the wall of the eye. This sometimes causes a small amount of bleeding in the eye that may appear as new floaters. A torn retina is always a serious problem, since it can lead to a retinal detachment. You should see your ophthalmologist as soon as possible if you experience any of the following:

• A new floater or several floaters that appears suddenly
• Sudden flashes of light in the eye
• Seeing “cobwebs” or hairs in field of vision
• Feeling a slight heaviness in the eye
• Impression of a curtain or veil coming down over vision
• Blurred vision
• Pain is not a symptom of a detached retina

What can I do about retinal detachment?

Early diagnosis and treatment of retinal detachment can save your vision. If you suspect you may have a retinal detachment, contact your ophthalmologist as soon as warning signs appear. Surgery is almost always used to repair retinal detachment.

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