What to know about retinal disorders
The retina is the innermost layer of the eye and contains many light-sensitive photoreceptor cells. These cells detect light and convert it into electrical signals that reach the brain via the optic nerve, resulting in vision. Retinal disease affects the retina and usually causes vision problems.
The human eye is a special organ that responds to light and allows a person to see. The eye consists of several structures that provide vision, including the retina.
Retinal diseases are diseases that affect all parts of the retina. Some have a mild effect on a person’s vision, while others can cause blindness. However, most retinal diseases can be prevented if the ophthalmologist diagnoses the disease early and treats it accordingly.
People with retinal problems may need to see an ophthalmologist. Is a medical professional specializing in ophthalmology or eye care. Specifically, you may need to see an ophthalmologist who specializes in conditions affecting the retina. This specialization is known as vitreoretinal medicine.
This article describes some of the more common retinal conditions and when you should see a doctor.
Common retinal disease
Some common retinal problems include:
A retinal tear occurs when there is a tear or hole in the retina. It usually occurs when a jelly-like substance in the eye sticks to the retina and pulls the retina to the point of tearing. This can happen when the vitreous breaks down due to aging or injury.
Retinal detachments can cause blurred vision, flying, or flashes of light.
Retinal tears can cause retinal detachment, so it is important to treat retinal tears. It is another serious disease that affects vision.
A retinal detachment occurs when fluid collects, usually through tears in the retina, separating the retina from the choroid, the layer of the eye that provides oxygen and nutrients.
Retinal detachment is a medical emergency that can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated.
Retinopathy results from damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye, causing fluid to leak. This fluid buildup can affect the retina and change vision. Conditions that cause retinopathy include diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.
Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes, and evidence suggests that it is the leading cause of adult blindness in the United States.
The epiretinal membrane (ERM), also called macular folds or cellophane maculopathy, forms a thin layer that develops on the inner surface of the retina. This is scar tissue, usually from disease or injury.
ERM often causes no symptoms unless it affects the center of the retina, or macula, which is essential for perceiving details and visual features. A person may notice distortion in central vision.
Like retinal tears, macular holes are small tears in the macula caused by abnormal tension between the vitreous and the retina.
Eye injuries can also cause macular holes.
Age-related macular degeneration is more common in older people, so ophthalmologists call it age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
In this case, the macula is damaged and central vision deteriorates. As the damage progresses over time, vision may be lost. According to a 2021 study, macular degeneration is the most common eye disease in the United States.
Official sources of retinitis refer to inflammation of the retina. For example, Lyme disease, syphilis, and dengue fever can cause retinitis.
Autoimmune diseases such as Behcet’s disease and lupus can also cause this condition.
Retinitis pigmentosa is a rare degenerative genetic disease that causes retinal cell death and damage. This can lead to gradual vision loss.
Retinoblastoma is a cancer of the retina and the most common type of eye cancer in newborns. According to the American Cancer Society, about 200 to 300 children in the United States are diagnosed with the disease each year.
A common sign when photographing a child is the absence of red reflection on the model.
Many conditions can cause macular edema, including AMD, diabetes, and retinal vein occlusion.
Blockage of retinal vessels
Retinal vein occlusion or stroke is a vascular disease that blocks a branch of the retinal vein, causing fluid and blood flow in the retina.
It blocks circulation, destroys nerve cells, and can cause vision loss.
Retinopathy can have many similar symptoms, such as:
- See Light Spark
- A sudden sensation of levitation
- Change your perspective
- Blurred vision or loss of vision in certain areas of the field of vision
- Decreased central or lateral vision
- Sudden loss of vision
- Changes in color vision
- Hard to see at night
It is difficult to adapt to changes in light
Problems and risks
Many different factors can contribute to the development of retinopathy.
For example, a 2020 study shows that increasing age, conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and previous eye surgery increase the risk of developing retinal problems. Also, having a family history of retinal disease increases your risk of developing retinal disease.
People also benefit from monitoring their health and taking care of their eyes.
You can also wear sunglasses or goggles to protect yourself from damage caused by eye injuries or retinal problems.
To evaluate and diagnose eye conditions such as retinopathy, ophthalmologists first ask about the patient’s medical history. This allows you to uncover conditions, such as underlying conditions, that are affecting your vision.
This is followed by a complete examination of the eye, with particular attention to the retina and macula. A special instrument called an ophthalmoscope is used inside the eye.
Your eye doctor may use eye drops to dilate your pupils to help you see better. They may also order an eye ultrasound and administer eye drops to prevent pain during the eye exam.
Ophthalmologists can also use optical coherence tomography (OCT) to take pictures of the retina and OCT angiography to take three-dimensional pictures of the blood flow in the eye. They may also order color tests, such as fluorescein angiography, to look for broken blood vessels.
The goal of treatment is to preserve and restore vision or prevent and reduce retinal damage.
Treatments for retinal disorders vary depending on the type and extent of the disease. Options can range from medications and vitamins to injections, surgery, and laser treatments.
An individual ophthalmologist will discuss the most suitable treatment options for this disease.
When you contact your doctor
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children have regular eye exams. In addition, people with medical conditions such as diabetes and people at risk for certain eye diseases should have regular eye exams.
People should see an eye doctor immediately if they have any of the following:
- loss of vision
- The vision is suddenly blurred
- Double vision
- Sudden visual disturbances such as floaters and flashes
- constant eye pain
- Eye infection
- stares often
- Eye damage or inflammation
Retinal problems are conditions that affect the retina and often cause vision problems. Early detection is important to prevent retinal disorders and slow their progression.
Regular eye exams are recommended, especially if people are at risk of retinal disorders. If a person’s vision changes, they should contact an ophthalmologist.