The retina is a layer of tissue in the back of your eye that senses light and sends images to your brain. The retina is crucial to proper vision. It is the light- sensitive lining of the inner eye that collects information about visual stimuli before it is sent over from the optic nerve to the brain to be processed into images.
The retina contains photoreceptor cells such as rods and cones that are sensitive to light. Rods function in dim light, while cones are responsible for daytime vision and fine visual functions. The macula is the central portion of the retina that contains highest number of cones and provides fine central vision.
Retinal damage can lead to profound loss of vision that requires immediate medical intervention.
Millions of patients in the United States are treated for retinal disorders every year, and millions more are expected to seek treatment as they age. Some of the most common retinal disorders and their treatment are:
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
is the most common type of macular degener ation and is the leading cause of legal blindness in people older than 55 years of age.
Treatment for Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD):
- Antioxidants,Vitamins/Minerals: The most effective treatment for AMD is a vitamin/mineral combination of Lutein, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin A, C, E, Zinc, and Copper as outlined in the Age Related Eye Disease Study,(AREDS). Studies have indicated that this treatmentmay play a key role in helping people at high risk for developing advanced AMD keep their vision.
- Anti-VEGF Injections: Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) is critical in causing abnormal blood vessels to grow under the retina that lead to loss of central vision. Anti-VEGF medications are a step forward in the treatment of wet AMD and are administered by injecting the medicine with a very fine needle into the back of your eye.
Retinal damage that occurs from long-term diabetes and diabetes that has not been adequately controlled, developing when tiny blood vessels within the retina are weakened and begin leaking blood, which then damages the retina.
Treatments for Diabetic Retinopathy:
- Laser Surgery helps in suppressing the leaking blood vessels.
- Intraocular Injections help reduce the swelling of the retina and suppress the abnormal blood vessel formation.
- Vitrectomy removes the vitreous gel and helps in relieving the traction on the retina and achieving retinal reattachment.
All treatments for diabetic eye disease involve team efforts from your family doctor, internist, or endocrinologist. Diabetic eye disease frequently is a sign that the underlying medical conditions may need closer and more aggressive monitoring.
Floaters and Flashes
Common with middle and older-aged adults.Floaters are shadows that appear to be floating in front of the eye, but are actually present within the eye. Flashes occur when the vitreous gel inside the eye pulls on the retina, causing a bright streak of light. Floaters and flashes of light may be associated with formation of retinal tear and eventually a retinal detachment. A new onset of flashes and floaters require immediate medical examination.
Macular Hole is a defect in the macula. It occurs more frequently as we age when the vitreous gel within the white portion of the eye begins to shrink, pulling on the macula and causing a defect. This results in loss of vision.
Treatment for Macular Hole:
- Intravitreal Injection of Ocriplasmin.
- Vitrectomy Surgery removes the vitreous gel and scar tissue causing hole formation. This is followed by a special gas injection that hes in sealing the macular hole.
Macular Pucker is caused by scar tissue that develops in the macula. Like a macular hole, macular pucker occurs more frequently as we age when the vitreous gel within the back portion of the eye begins to shrink and pulls on the retina, stimulating the formation of scar tissue. This, in turn, results in macular pucker and causes blurry or distorted vision. It usually does not worsen and may occur only in one eye.
Treatment for Macular Pucker:
- Vitrectomy and Membranectomy removes the vitreous gel and epiretinal membranes causing wrinkling of the macula.
Retinal Tear/Detachment is a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention to avoid loss of vision. This can occur for any number of reasons, including high myopia, advanced diabetic retinopathy, trauma (a sudden blow to the head), or from aging, which is the most common cause.
Treatment for Retinal Tear/Detachment:
- Pneumatic Retinopexy involves applying laser or cryotherapy to the retinal tear, followed by injecting a special gas bubble into the eye that pushes on the retina to seal the tear.
- Scleral Buckle Procedure requires the fluid to be drained from under the retina before a flexible piece of silicone is sutured on the outer eye wall to give support to the tear while it heals.
- Vitrectomy Surgery removes the vitreous gel from the eye, replacing it with a gas bubble or silicon oil. Laser treatment is applied at the time of surgery to treat the areas of torn retina.
Retinal Venous Occlusion
Retinal Venous Occlusion is a blockage in a vein that communicates with the retina, causing a sudden, painless loss of vision. It is a common disorder affecting the retina, second only to diabetic retinopathy as a leading cause of retinal vascular loss of vision. It is seen more often in the elderly and in people with high blood pressure.
Treatment for Retinal Venous Occlusion:
- Intravitreal Injections help reduce the swelling of the retina, thereby preventing vision loss.
- Laser Surgery suppresses abnormal blood vessel formation that can cause severe bleeding into the eye, leading to vision loss.