The retina is a thin layer of tissue that lines the inside the back of the eye close to the optic nerve. Without it, the eye would not be able to convert light into neural signals that the brain can process and recognize. Like all parts of the body, the retina is not safe from disease and can be afflicted with a number of conditions that can impair—or take—your ability to see. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to curb their symptoms and even treat the disorder.
What are common retinal diseases?
Many disorders of the retina originate from its deterioration due to age, unhealthy habits, and other conditions, such as diabetes and nearsightedness. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) occurs when the macula, located at the center of the retina, weaken with age and start forming leaking abnormal blood vessels. Other common retinal diseases include diabetic eye diseases and retinal holes which may be an offshoot of injury or nearsightedness.
How do you manage retinal disease?
Early detection is key to effective management, so regular eye exams are a must. Conditions like AMD have no cure but can be slowed down by exercise, a healthy diet, and guidance from your doctor. Breaking edge treatment methods, such as laser therapy, can be used to burn away aberrant blood vessels common in advanced stages of AMD and diabetic eye disease, as well as close and “weld” together holes and tears in the retina.
What is retinal detachment?
The retina can be lifted or pulled from its normal position because of several factors, including extreme nearsightedness, existing eye conditions (such as degenerative myopia, and lattice degeneration, among others), surgery, injury, or genetics. At times, detachment may be accompanied by torn tissue, especially if the detachment began as retinal tears. When not addressed promptly, retinal detachment can lead to permanent loss of vision.
How do you manage retinal detachment?
If you notice lots of new floaters in your field of sight, flashes of light, or the darkening of your peripheral vision, it’s best to go to your doctor immediately. Your doctor will use special tools to determine if your retina is detached, after which they will recommend the appropriate treatment method. The ways to manage retinal detachment include:
1. Laser therapy. This treatment uses lasers to create scar tissue that seal tears and cement the retina to the back of the eye.
2. Cryopexy. This approach is similar to laser therapy but instead of burning tissue, it freezes torn tissue to create scars.
3. Pneumatic retinopexy. In this approach, your doctor inserts a gas bubble inside your eye, which then pushes the retina to the back of the eye. Laser therapy or cryopexy will then be used to seal torn tissue.
4. Scleral buckle. This involves placing a silicone band around your sclera (the white of the eye), which serves as a buckle that pushes the retina to the back of the eye until the injury heals.
5. Vitrectomy. If the tear is large, your doctor may combine this approach with the other methods in the list. According to WebMD, your doctor will remove some amount of vitreous gel (the gel inside the eyes) during the vitrectomy so they can have better access to the damaged part of the retina.
The retina is a very sensitive part of the eye and damage to it can have serious implications to your vision. Many retinal diseases do not exhibit symptoms during their early stages, so visiting your eye doctor regularly for check-ups will help detect problems right when they can be managed more effectively or better yet, cured.