Retinal diseases vary widely, but most of them causes visual symptoms. Retinal diseases can affect any part of retina, a thin layer of tissue on the inside back wall of eye.
The retina is made up of millions of light-sensitive cells (rods and cones) and other nerve cells that receive and organize visual information. Retina sends this information to brain through optic nerve, enabling us to see.
Some retinal diseases are treatable. Depending on the condition, treatment goals may be to stop or slow the disease and preserve, improve or restore vision. If not treated, some retinal diseases can cause severe vision loss or blindness.
Retinal diseases have common signs and symptoms. These may include:
- Seeing floating specks or cobwebs
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Defects in the side vision
- Lost vision
What is the time to consult a doctor:
It is important to pay attention to any changes in vision and find care quickly. You may require immediate medical attention if you suddenly have floaters, flashes or reduced vision. These are warning symbols of potentially serious retinal disease.
Common retinal diseases and conditions include the following:
- Retinal tear. A retinal tear occurs when the clear, gel-like substance in the vitreous shrinks and tugs on the thin layer of tissue lining the retina with enough traction to cause a break in the tissue.
- Retinal detachment. A retinal detachment is described by the presence of fluid under the retina.
- Diabetic retinopathy.In case of Diabetic patientsthe capillaries in the back of eye can deteriorate and leak fluid into and under the retina. This causes the retina to swell, which may blur or distort the vision.
- Epiretinal membrane. It is a delicate tissue-like scar or membrane that looks like crinkled cellophane lying on top of the retina. This membrane pulls up on the retina, which distorts the vision.
- Macular hole. A macular hole is a small defect in the center of the retina at the macula. The hole may develop from abnormal traction between the retina and the vitreous, or it may follow an injury to the eye.
- Macular degeneration. In macular degeneration, the center of retina begins to deteriorate. This causes symptoms such as blurred central vision or a blind spot in the center of the visual field.
- Retinitis pigmentosa. It is a degenerative disease that affects the retina.
Risk factors for retinal diseases may include aging, having diabetes or other diseases, eye trauma, and a family history of retinal diseases.
The main goals of treatment are to stop or slow down the disease progression and preserve, improve or restore your vision. In many cases, irreversible damage occurs, making early detection important. The doctor will work with you to determine the best treatment.
Treatment of retinal disease might be complex and sometimes urgent. Options include:
- Using a laser. Laser surgery can help to repair a retinal tear or hole. Immediate laser treatment of a new retinal tear can reduce the chance of it causing a retinal detachment.
- Shrinking abnormal blood vessels. A technique called scatter laser photocoagulation is used by the doctor to shrink abnormal new blood vessels that are bleeding or threatening to bleed into the eye. This treatment might help people with diabetic retinopathy. Extensive use of this treatment can cause the loss of some side (peripheral) or night vision.
- Freezing. The process, called cryopexy (KRY-o-pek-see), a freezing probe is applied to the external wall of the eye to treat a retinal tear. Intense cold reaches the inside of the eye and freezes the retina. The treated area would later scar and secure the retina to the eye wall.
- Injecting air or gas into your eye. The technique, called pneumatic retinopexy (RET-ih-no-pek-see), is used to repair certain types of retinal detachment. It could be used in combination with cryopexy or laser photocoagulation.
- Indenting the surface of your eye. The surgery, called scleral (SKLEER-ul) buckling, is used to repair a retinal detachment. A small piece of silicone material is sewed to the outside eye surface (sclera). This indents the sclera and reduce some of the force caused by the vitreous tugging on the retina. This technique might be used with other treatments.