Your retina is a membrane or tissue, that’s located in the back of your eye. The retina converts light into signals. These signals are then read by the brain by processing light through photoreceptor cells.
The retina is an integral part of the eye. If it becomes damaged, partial or total blindness might occur. Here’s what you need to know about how your retina works and how you can keep it healthy.
The retina has a layer of cells known as photoreceptors. Rod photoreceptors perceive motion.
They give you your black-and-white vision and help you see in low light conditions. Cone photoreceptors work to provide central vision and color vision.
Cone photoreceptors perform well in medium to bright light. Millions of cells are present in your retina.
Photoreceptor cells take light focused by the cornea and lens and convert that light into signals. The optic nerve then sends those signals to the visual centers in your brain.
Next, the visual cortex of your brain converts the signals into images. Because the visual cortex of your brain converts the signals into images, this is how you are able to see.
There are several types of retinal diseases. Here are some of the conditions we treat at Vision Care of Maine:
Patients with diabetes will sometimes develop retinopathy or damage to the retina. Diabetic retinopathy occurs because of damage to the blood vessels in the retina.
If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can eventually cause blindness. Patients that are diabetic and have uncontrolled blood sugar levels are most likely to develop this eye condition.
Macular degeneration causes vision loss and often gets worse with age. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of permanent vision loss for people that are 60 years old and over.
Retinal vasculitis refers to inflammation of the retinal blood vessels. Damage to these blood vessels in the retina can lead to minimal, partial, or total blindness.
Uveitis is a type of inflammation that affects the middle of the eye (the uvea). When left undiagnosed or untreated, uveitis could lead to permanent vision loss.
Patients with vitreous hemorrhage experience blood leaking into the vitreous cavity. A vitreous hemorrhage may occur if there are abnormal blood vessels that are more prone to bleeding, normal blood vessels that burst because of stress, or as an extension of blood from another source, like a tumor or microaneurysm.
Macular edema occurs when fluid builds up in the macula or the center of the retina. Common symptoms of macular edema include wavy central vision, seeing colors as more washed out, or having difficulty reading.
Many retinal diseases present themselves with the same symptoms. You can self-evaluate for symptoms such as:
● Lost vision
● Blurred or distorted vision
● Seeing cobwebs or floating specks
● Defects in your side vision
If you suddenly develop floaters, flashes, or reduced vision, go to an ophthalmologist in Presque Isle immediately.
Each retinal disease has a different cause. Some conditions, such as macular degeneration, are related to aging.
Others might stem from diabetes or other health issues. Trauma to the eye can also play a part. And your family history should be considered, too.
Some retinal diseases can be treated. Your doctor may begin treatment with a goal of slowing the disease.
In other words, you might not gain back the sight you’ve already lost, but you may be able to keep the sight you currently have. In other cases, complete vision restoration might be possible.
Each individual case is different, so treatment and prognosis will depend on your specific disease and your eyes.
For retinal diseases that can be treated, patients may undergo any of the following:
● Laser surgery
● Shrinking abnormal blood vessels
● Injecting air or gas into the eye
● Indenting the surface of your eye
● Removing and replacing the fluid in the eye
● Injecting medicine into the eye
● Implanting a retinal prosthesis
Speak with your primary eye care provider in Presque Isle to determine the best course of treatment for you.
Retinal detachment is most commonly treated through surgery. Simple laser surgery in your eye doctor’s office can fix any small tears in the retina.
If you have a more serious case, a more in-depth procedure may be necessary. Sometimes, doctors will also recommend freezing as a treatment.
This is either on its own or in tandem with a surgical procedure. If you suffer a retinal detachment in Bangor, contact us at Vision Care of Maine for treatment.
Your eye doctor will ask questions about your symptoms, other health conditions, and family history besides examining your eyes. The following diagnostic tests might also be necessary:
● Amsler grid test
● Optical coherence tomography (OCT)
● Fluorescein angiography
● Indocyanine green angiography
● CT and MRI
The best way to care for your retina is to be proactive. Don’t wait until you notice symptoms of any retinal disease.
Instead, schedule a yearly checkup for primary eye care. Not sure when your last eye exam was? Schedule an appointment at Vision Care of Maine in Bangor, ME and let our ophthalmologists help!