Don’t Let Retinal Vascular Disease Rob You of Your Sight

Retinal vascular disease damages the blood vessels within the retina, the light-sensitive layers of nerve tissue responsible for processing visual information. Over time, damage to these delicate blood vessels can result in vision loss.


Types of Retinal Vascular Diseases

The most common forms of retinal vascular disorders include the following, all of which can lead to vision impairment and complete blindness without proper treatment:

  • Diabetic retinopathy: A prevalent complication of diabetes, this condition occurs when high levels of blood sugar inflict damage to the retina’s blood vessels. (Related: Tips to Slow Down Diabetic Retinopathy Progression)
  • Macular degeneration: This degenerative eye disorder affects the macula, the central part of the retina delivering clear, sharp, and detailed vision. (Related: How Age-Related Macular Degeneration Affects Your Vision)
  • Hypertensive retinopathy: Most common among African Americans and those of Chinese descent, this eye condition arises when high blood pressure (chronic hypertension) damages the retina’s blood vessels.
  • Retinal artery occlusion: Blocks one of the arteries supplying blood to the retina.
  • Retinal vein occlusion: Manifests as a blood clot in one of the veins carrying blood away from the retina.
  • Central serous retinopathy: This condition causes fluid to collect under the retina, progressing toward distorted vision and blindness in some cases.

If you notice an unusual change in your vision or have been diagnosed with one of the above retinal vascular disorders, consult an eye specialist as soon as possible.


What Factors Trigger Retinal Damage?

Below are the most common causes of retinal damage, which may progress into one of the above eye diseases:

  • Aging: Your vision will naturally deteriorate with age, with every measure of your visual function showing a gradual drop in performance. The changes you may encounter include decreased visual acuity, reduced contrast sensitivity, decline in visual field sensitivity, and elevated dark adaptation threshold.
  • Smoking: Using tobacco products causes blood vessels throughout the body (including within the retina) to constrict, increasing blood pressure and the risk of vision loss.
  • High blood pressure: Elevated blood pressure levels can cause narrowed or ruptured retinal vessels, leading to a decreased supply of nutrients and oxygen required for healthy vision.
  • Diabetes: Among people with diabetes, the blood vessels in the retina can leak blood and other fluids due to rising glucose levels. Untreated diabetes can also cause swelling and injury within the eyes’ retinal tissues, impairing vision over time.
  • High cholesterol levels: Fat deposits called plaques may collect inside the blood vessels when a person has elevated cholesterol levels. Unaddressed, this issue could lead to restricted blood flow into the retina and cause eventual vision loss.
  • Certain autoimmune diseases: Certain autoimmune illnesses spark inflammation in the retina’s veins. This swelling can harm the sensitive tissue and cause further deterioration of visual capabilities over time.


How to Spot the Signs of Retinal Vascular Disorder

Some individuals with retinal vascular disease may exhibit no symptoms, while others suffer from vision problems. These are among the most common signs to watch out for:

  • Blurred vision: Reduced sharpness in vision, causing objects to appear hazy or unfocused.
  • Altered vision: Seeing floaters, dark spots, or distorted lines.
  • Vision loss: Refers to partial or complete loss of sight.
  • Eye pain: Presence of physician discomfort in one or both eyes.
  • Redness: The eyes take on a bloodshot or pinkish hue.
  • Photosensitivity: This condition, also known as “photophobia,” is a disorder that causes the eyes to be more sensitive to light sources.

If any of these manifestations occur, consult an ophthalmologist or optometrist to identify the root cause and receive appropriate treatment.


Treatments for Retinal Vascular Disorders

If your Sun City eye doctor diagnosed you with retinal vascular disease, several treatment options are available, depending on your condition’s severity. Your options may include the following:

  • Laser therapy: Lasers can help seal or eliminate any leaking blood vessels in the retina that can develop into more serious retinal conditions such as macular edema or diabetic retinopathy. A leading example of such procedures is retinal photocoagulation, which involves using a laser to stop subsequent bleeding and minimize the possibility of visual damage due to abnormal vessel growths or ruptures.
  • Anti-VEGF therapy: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a protein that can stimulate abnormal blood vessel growth in the eye. Anti-VEGF therapy involves injecting a medication that blocks VEGF, which can address or reduce abnormal blood vessel growth and prevent vision impairment. This treatment approach is most effective for diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.
  • Surgery: Surgery, especially vitrectomy, may become necessary if other treatments fail. During the procedure, a surgeon will remove the vitreous (the transparent gel filling the space between the retina and lens of the eyeball) and replace it with another solution. Vitrectomy has various uses and applications, including laser repair of retinal detachments.
  • Steroid injections: Your physician may inject steroids into the affected eye to reduce inflammation and swelling in the retina. This treatment option can help prevent macular edema from progressing further.
  • Blood thinners: In some cases, blood thinners may help prevent blood clot formation in the retina’s blood vessels.

The state of your condition will determine which option is best to help combat retinal vascular disease.


Role of Your Lifestyle in Maintaining Optimal Eye Health

In addition, for some retinal vascular disorders, including hypertensive retinopathy, making healthy lifestyle changes may help manage the condition and prevent unwanted complications. If you have a history of elevated high blood pressure or have been diagnosed with chronic hypertension, consider maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly to control your blood pressure.

Taking charge of your ocular health also requires implementing key behaviors that support overall well-being. Therefore, aside from eating a balanced diet rich in plant-based foods and engaging in regular physical activity, ensure to avoid tobacco use and wear protective eye gear when participating in sports activities.


Check Your Eyes for Retinal Damage

An essential aspect of maintaining excellent eye health is scheduling annual comprehensive eye exams with professionals with decades of experience detecting early signs of ocular damage and retinal vascular disorders. If you need an eye doctor in Phoenix and Sun City, Contact Arizona Retinal Specialists today at 623-474-3937 to schedule your appointment.

NOTICE TO USERS is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on