To better understand retinal disease let’s get a better understanding of what retina is and what is retina’s function in a healthy eye. There are many different Retinal Diseases, but most of them cause visual problems.
What is Retina
The retina is a light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye which is responsible for how images are viewed. Those images are then converted to electrical impulses those are relayed to the brain via the optic nerve. A retinal disease, or disorder, affects this sensitive tissue which in some cases can lead to blindness. Most common retinal diseases are:
Diseases mentioned above are the most common, but there are other Retinal Diseases.
Many retinal disease share signs and symptoms including:
Degeneration of the retina resulting in a gradual loss of vision, peripheral vision, and in some cases, loss of central vision. The degeneration takes time, and if undetected and untreated can lead to blindness.
Blurred or distorted vision
Distortion of vision often indicates an issue in the Macula, which is the center of the Retina. If you look, with one eye closed, at something that should be straight, like the blinds in a window or the edge of the door you should not see any distortions. Any distortions in the vision should be evaluated by Dr. Stolte. A series of tests will be performed to determine the health of the retina, and if a disease is present an early detection might slow or in some cases allow the treatment of Retinal disease.
The eye is filled with a jelly-like fluid called vitreous, which is a clear substance in a young and healthy eye. Due to aging, this gel substance turns into liquid, making the floaters, small specks moving in your field of vision more apparent. A sudden increase in new floaters may indicate a problem, but most floaters are not dangerous. Floaters can be treated either by laser or in severe cases by a surgical procedure called Vitrectomy.
In some cases, the vitreous can pull on the retina while it separates, causing a linear flash of light. If you experience the linear or arc-shaped flash of light situated off to the side, you are at risk of a retinal tear, especially of the flashes of light are triggered by the head or eye movement. These flashes of light need to be evaluated by Dr. Stolte immediately. Depending on the severity of the tear, it could treated in the office by laser or referred to a retinal specialist.
If the retina gets torn, it allows fluid to get into space behind it lifting it off the back of the eye. This is called Retinal Detachment. As a result, peripheral vision is lost, and it’s seen as a dark curtain. This must be evaluated and treated immediately.
Treatment is available for some retinal diseases and depending on your diagnosis the treatment may slow or in some cases stop the disease, improve or even restore your vision. However, the untreated retinal disease can cause irreversible vision loss or blindness. There is a variety of tests to help determine if the retina is affected by the retinal disease and the extent of the disease:
The treatment of the retinal disease depends on how soon was the retinal disease detected and how severe it is:
Vitrectomy is a surgical procedure during which Dr. Stolte removes the gel-like fluid that fills the inside of your eye (vitreous), and he then injects air, gas or liquid into space.
Freezing. During this procedure, the doctor applies a freezing probe to the external wall of the eye to treat a retinal tear. The intense cold reaches the inside of the eye and freezing that portion of the retina. The treated area will scar during the healing process and secure the retina to the wall of the eye.
Implanting a retinal prosthesis. This procedure is for patients who have severe loss of vision or blindness due to retinal disease, although this surgical option is not widely available.
Indenting the surface of your eye. Scleral buckling is used to repair a retinal detachment. During the surgery, Dr. Stolte sews a small piece of silicone material to the outside eye surface (sclera). This indents the sclera and relieves some of the tension caused by the vitreous pulling on the retina.
Injecting medicine directly into the eye. A variety of medications is now available for this procedure, during which Dr. Stolte will be injecting medication into the vitreous in the eye. This procedure may be effective in treating people with diabetic retinopathy or wet macular degeneration.
Laser surgery. Laser surgery is used to repair a retinal hole or a tear. Dr. Stolte will use the laser to heat small pinpoints on the retina, which creates scaring that usually binds the retina to the underlying tissue. Immediate laser treatment of a new retinal tear can decrease the retinal detachment.
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