The retina is the multi-layered tissue lining the back of the eye. This part of the eye captures light rays and converts them into images. When the delicate retinal tissue becomes damaged as a result of injury or disease, the eye loses its ability to convert light into images, and vision can become significantly reduced or lost altogether.
To avoid potential vision loss, you should seek help whenever you suspect retinal or any other eye problem. Typically, the earlier the disease is detected and treated, the better your chances of preserving and/or improving your vision. Our dedicated eye doctors are experienced in early diagnosis and effective treatment of a range of retinal diseases, including macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and retinal detachment. Visit our contact page to schedule a consultation and receive a complete evaluation of your eye health and expert advice on the most appropriate treatment.
Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (also referred to as AMD and ARMD) is a condition where the central part of the retina, called the macula, gradually deteriorates. It is estimated that more than 15 million Americans have some form of AMD. This disease mostly affects older people and it is the leading cause of blindness for people over 65. The early signs of AMD include blurred, distorted vision and shadowy areas in the eye’s center of vision.
Most people suffering from macular degeneration have the dry form of AMD, in which the macula gradually becomes too thin to function properly. Typically, dry AMD does not cause severe vision loss. However, in about 10 percent of cases dry AMD progresses into the more damaging wet form, in which new blood vessels begin to grow on the macula. These vessels might cause scarring of the macula, damaging its light-sensitive tissue. The wet form of AMD can eventually cause blindness. Our skilled doctors use sophisticated technologies to detect AMD as early as possible and then choose a treatment plan to help slow the progression of this debilitating condition. Medications like Lucentis and Eylea have been shown to slow vision loss caused by AMD. Our surgeons may also recommend laser treatments to control the growth of abnormal blood vessels or even vitamin supplements to help slow the progression of AMD.
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition affecting many diabetes patients. A diabetic’s elevated blood sugar levels can cause damage to blood vessels, including those in the eyes. The affected blood vessels might bleed, creating blood deposits that can damage the sensitive retinal tissue and cause retinal swelling. If the disease goes untreated, the body attempts to compensate for the lost oxygen and nutrients by growing new blood vessels on the surface of retina. This condition can lead to severe retinal damage and cause complete vision loss.
To avoid the potentially serious consequences of diabetic retinopathy, it is crucial that diabetics receive a detailed eye exam at least once a year. Our eye doctors use specialized equipment to detect diabetic retinopathy in its early stages and monitor the condition’s progression. They are able to help many patients slow or reverse diabetic retinopathy by administering medications or steroid treatments and/or performing the advanced laser photocoagulation procedure.
Retinal detachment is a condition where the retina becomes separated from the underlying supportive tissue, typically as a result of injury. However, severe nearsightedness and certain eye conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy, can also cause retinal detachment. Regardless of the cause, retinal detachment is a serious condition that can lead to a complete loss of vision if not diagnosed and treated promptly.
Consult one of our experienced eye doctors immediately if you suspect that you might have a detached retina. It is important to seek help early as the chances of regaining or retaining vision are much better if the retina is reattached promptly. Some of the methods used for reattaching the retina include laser photocoagulation, gas bubble injections and silicone oil injections.
Retinitis pigmentosa is a rare, debilitating eye condition where the retina of the eye slowly deteriorates, leading to a complete loss of vision. Unfortunately, retinitis pigmentosa is a hereditary disease for which no treatment is currently available. However, it is important to diagnose this disease early to ensure proper monitoring and physical and psychological adjustment.
Retinal Vein Occlusion (RVO)
A retinal vein occlusion (RVO) is a blockage that prevents normal blood flow out of the eye. The blockage may be caused by a blood clot, compression from a nearby retinal artery or diseases that affect the blood vessels, such as diabetes, glaucoma, high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). An RVO occurs more frequently in adults middle age and older. There are two main types of RVO: branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO) and central retina vein occlusion (CRVO). In BRVO, the blockage occurs in one of the smaller branch vessels that connect to the central retinal vein. In CRVO, the blockage occurs in the central retinal vein.
Sudden blurring and vision loss in all or part of one eye are the most common symptoms of RVO. However, some patients experience gradual vision loss over a period of days or even weeks. The degree of blurring or vision loss depends on how much damage occurs to the retina prior to diagnosis and treatment. OZURDEX® is an FDA-approved drug used to treat the blockages following an occurrence of retinal vein occlusion. RVO with edema can also be treated with Avastin. For the best outcome following an RVO diagnosis, it is important to seek the care of an ophthalmologist with a specialty in treatment of vitreoretinal diseases, such as the highly skilled doctors at Eye Health Partners & VisionAmerca.
Noninfectious Uveitis Affecting the Back Segment of the Eye
Noninfectious uveitis affecting the back segment of the eye is typically painless. Symptoms include decreased vision and irregular floating black spots (floaters) in the field of vision. More severe posterior uveitis affecting the retina can lead to significant loss of vision. Back-of-the-eye uveitis may include the middle section of the uvea reaching the edge of the retina. It may also affect the choroid and other parts of the back of the eye, including the entire retina and the blood vessels of the retina.
Uveitis can damage the eye and cause long-term complications that reduce vision. While many people have only a single episode of uveitis, others may have recurrences over months to years. It is very important to receive medical treatment from an experienced Vitreoretinal Surgeon for the inflammation of uveitis affecting the back segment of the eye. OZURDEX® (dexamethasone intravitreal implant) is an FDA-approved treatment for noninfectious uveitis affecting the back segment of the eye.
When the vitreous (the gel that fills the inside of the eye) begins to shrink and liquefy, it can become stuck to the retina and pull, leading to vitreomacular adhesion (VMA). This condition can dramatically affect vision if left untreated. In younger people, the vitreous is completely attached to the surface of the retina, most strongly at the optic nerve, around blood vessels, and in the central retina around the macula. With age, however, the vitreous slowly liquefies and cleanly separates from the retina in a process called posterior vitreous detachment. In most people, a posterior vitreous detachment results in a clean separation and presents no major issues, but in some cases, this process becomes uneven, and when the macula is involved, it results in VMA.
Symptoms include blurred central vision, distortion of straight lines, dark or blank spots obscuring central vision, bright flashes, decreased visual acuity, and optical distortion. In the worst cases, a full-thickness tear in the fovea — a macular hole — can occur. Up until the last few years, the only treatment for this condition was a procedure called a vitrectomy, a procedure through which the vitreous is removed from the eye. However, a drug called JETREA® (ocriplasmin) has now been green-lighted by the FDA; it is the first drug approved to treat symptomatic VMA. For the best treatment option, consult with one of our vitreoretinal surgeons at Eye Health Partners & VisionAmerica by making an appointment via the Contact Us page.
Contact Eye Health Partners for a Retina Examination
The retina plays a vital role in ensuring good vision. A damaged retina can cause severe vision loss, which is why it is very important to detect and treat any retinal problems as early as possible. Please visit our contact page to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced eye doctors who can perform a thorough eye exam, diagnose any vision problems and provide prompt, effective treatment.
Eye Health Partners is proud to offer retina treatments at their Birmingham, Cullman, Columbia, Gadsden, Mobile, Montgomery, Murfreesboro, Oxford-Anniston and Nashville locations. Please visit their respective pages to learn about their facilities.