retina

noun. located at the back of the eye, the retina is a layer of tissue that transforms the light coming into your eye into electrical signals

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The electrical signals are then sent to the brain where they are recognized as images. Therefore, if your retina is not performing well you may not see well either. Some common disorders within the retina include: 

● Retinal Detachment

● Diabetic Retinopathy

● Age Related Macular Degeneration

 

retinal detachment

noun. an emergency situation in which a thin layer of tissue (the retina) at the back of the eye pulls away from its normal position

Retinal detachment separates the retinal cells from the layer of blood vessels that provides oxygen and nourishment. The longer retinal detachment goes untreated, the greater your risk of permanent vision loss in the affected eye.

 

Retinal detachment itself is painless. Warning signs of retinal detachment may include one or all of the following:

  • The sudden appearance of many floaters — tiny specks that seem to drift through your field of vision

  • Flashes of light in one or both eyes (photopsia)

  • Blurred vision

  • Gradually reduced side (peripheral) vision

  • A curtain-like shadow over your visual field

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diabetic retinopathy

noun. an ocular manifestation of diabetes, a systemic disease, which affects up to 80 percent of all patients who have had diabetes for 10 years or more.

The longer a person has diabetes, the higher his or her chances are of developing diabetic retinopathy. Despite these intimidating statistics, research indicates that at least 90 percent of new cases could be reduced. Education on diabetic eye disease and retinopathy is especially important because it is often preventable or treatable. Unfortunately, this means it can go unnoticed in the early stages. As the disease progresses, permanent vision loss is a real possibility if the patient does not receive treatment.

There are multiple forms of diabetic retinopathy, and only your doctor can determine your particular form. With one form, blood vessels may swell and leak fluid. In another, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina.

 

Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy

In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, many do not notice a change to their vision because there are little to no symptoms. If an eye doctor does not catch diabetic retinopathy early, one could sustain mild blurriness at near or far distances, as well as floaters. In severe cases, a sudden loss of vision may occur.

Unfortunately, diabetic retinopathy can result in permanent damage that cannot be reversed.  However, if caught in time, prescribed treatments may slow development and prevent vision loss.

macular degeneration

noun. a medical condition that usually affects older adults

This vision-stealing disease is the result of degeneration to the macula. It results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field because of the damage to the retina. It occurs in dry and wet forms and is the leading cause of blindness and visual impairment in adults over the age of 50.

 

Types of Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration can make it difficult or impossible to read or recognize faces, although enough peripheral vision remains to allow other activities of daily life. The dry form of advanced AMD results from atrophy of the retinal pigment epithelial layer below the retina. This causes vision loss due to the damage of photoreceptors, also known as rods and cones, in the central part of the eye.

 

The wet form of advanced AMD causes vision loss due to abnormal blood vessel growth. This ultimately leads to blood and protein leakage below the macula. Bleeding, leaking, and scarring from these blood vessels eventually causes irreversible damage to the photoreceptors and rapid vision loss if left untreated. Fortunately, only about 10 percent of patients suffering from macular degeneration have the “wet” type.

 

Macular degeneration is not painful, which may allow it to go unnoticed for some time. For this reason, regular eye examinations are important. While approximately 10 percent of patients age 66 to 74 will have findings of macular degeneration, the prevalence increases to 30 percent for patients age 75 to 85 years of age. Family history may also play a factor. The good news is that regular eye exams, early detection, and new treatment options enable our doctors to maintain (and in some cases increase) visual acuity in patients.

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