When it comes to keeping your eyes healthy, it helps to understand how your eyes work. The retina is a crucial component of how you’re able to see the world around you.
At Dakota Eye Institute, our retina specialist, and team of eye care experts is well-versed in providing our patients with quality eye care. Whether treating the retina or looking for an eye exam, we’re here to help!
What is the Retina?
The retina is the part of your eye that allows you to see. It comprises a thin layer of tissue that occupies over 60% of the back of your eye.
The retina’s role is to receive light from the eye’s natural lens before converting the light into signals. Neural signals are then sent to the brain to interpret the images in front of you.
Eye Conditions That Affect the Retina
Different kinds of eye conditions affect the retina, including:
Diabetic retinopathy is a common condition that can affect both eyes. It’s caused by damaged retinal blood vessels in people with diabetes.
If you have uncontrolled blood sugar levels, you’re at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Often, those with the condition have mild vision problems but can potentially lose their eyesight if left untreated.
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
Unfortunately, the signs of diabetic retinopathy usually don’t appear until damage to the eye has already occurred. Some symptoms of the disease include:
- Having trouble seeing at night
- The appearance of floaters
- Blurry vision
- Difficulty differentiating colors
- Vision loss
You can avoid irreversible damage to your sight by scheduling routine eye exams, which can help detect the condition early. You should also keep your blood sugar levels under control.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases resulting in optic nerve damage due to increased intraocular pressure (IOP). There are many reasons why pressure in the eye increases.
In some instances, it’s due to inflammatory conditions, injury, genetics, or infection. Glaucoma can also stem from your eye losing its ability to drain fluid.
This is because the eyes constantly produce a clear fluid called aqueous humor. Aqueous humor maintains the shape of your eye and keeps your eyes nourished. Once this fluid makes its way into the eye, it must drain out through the drainage angle.
Damage to the drainage angle creates an imbalance in your eye. The eye’s rate of producing the aqueous humor becomes greater than the aqueous humor’s rate can be drained. With this combination, high intraocular pressure occurs.
Glaucoma and Retinal Disease
The retina has neurons called ganglion cells responsible for sending visual information to the brain. An increase in pressure inside your eye destroys the ganglion cells, resulting in vision problems like glaucoma.
Glaucoma has no cure, and vision loss due to the condition is irreversible. Further progression can be stopped or slowed down with early detection and treatment.
At the center of the retina is the macula. The macula is where detailed and central vision occurs. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye condition that impacts the macula.
AMD occurs in people who are 50 and older and can affect one or both eyes. Those with macular degeneration don’t go completely blind.
Their peripheral vision remains intact. But due to AMD, people can’t read fine details, drive, or see faces. Typically, AMD presents no symptoms in the early stages.
Age-related macular degeneration has various signs and symptoms. They are:
- Blind spots
- Slightly blurry vision
- Straight lines appearing wavy
Early detection of AMD is key to preserving your functional vision. While there’s no cure for age-related macular degeneration, treatment can slow the disease and prevent severe vision loss.
A macular pucker is a thin layer of scar tissue that forms on top of the retina. The amount of scar tissue can range from mild to severe. Mild macular puckers may be barely noticeable during an eye exam and resemble a fine layer of cellophane resting on the macula. More severe macular puckers can cause wrinkling or distortion of the macula. In contrast to a macular pucker, a macular hole is a small gap that extends through the entire thickness of the macula.
Macular Hole/Pucker Symptoms:
- Mild, blurring of the central vision
- Wavy or distorted vision
- A central blind spot
- Straight lines appearing broken or having a piece missing in the middle
Treatment will range, depending on the severity of the condition, from close monitoring to surgery. Surgery by a retina specialist usually leads to significant restoration of vision.
Retinal detachment is an urgent situation where a thin layer of tissue (the retina) pulls away from its normal position. The longer retinal detachment goes untreated, the greater the risk of permanent vision loss in the affected eye.
Warning Signs of Retinal Detachment:
- Sudden appearance of floaters – small dark spots or squiggly lines that seem to drift through the field of vision
- Flashes of light in one eye
- A curtain-like shadow over the field of vision
The symptoms of retinal detachment often appear rather suddenly. If a retinal detachment is not treated right away, more of the retina can detach, which increases the risk of permanent vision loss or blindness.
Treatment for Retinal Detachment
The type of treatment or surgery your doctor suggests will depend on how much of the retina is detached and what type of retinal detachment you have. Treatment for retinal detachment typically works well if the detachment is caught early.
Preserve Your Vision
Your eyesight contributes immensely to your quality of life. That’s why Dakota Eye Institute is dedicated to preserving vision by delivering the finest quality retinal care.
Our compassionate eye doctors utilize cutting-edge technology to perform diagnostic testing and provide top-of-the-line, highly individualized treatment plans. Contact Dakota Eye Institute in Bismarck, ND, today!