What is the Retina?
The retina is the delicate, light-sensitive tissue that covers the interior wall of the eye. Like the film of a camera, it receives images projected through the lens of the eye and sends these images to your brain through the optic nerve. When the retina is damaged in any way, your vision becomes impaired. Damage to the retina may be caused by injury, illness or as a result of aging.
If you are experiencing vitreo-retinal problems you should consult with a specialist that focuses on diseases in the back of the eye such as macular degeneration, diabetic disease, retinal detachment, trauma and intraocular infection.
Common Retina Conditions
Diabetic Retinopathy occurs when diabetes damages blood vessels inside your eye, which can lead to blurry, distorted vision and blindness.
- Symptoms: blurry, darkened or cloudy vision; seeing floaters or black lines
- Risk factors: high blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol
- Treatment options: laser photocoagulation to control leaking capillaries and prevent growth of new capillaries, vitrectomy to remove cloudy vitreous and scar tissue, and cryotherapy to shrink capillaries and repair the retina
- Prevention: regular eye exams, diet, medications, regular exercise, blood sugar and blood pressure control, and avoidance of alcohol and cigarettes
Post Vitreous Detachment (PVD)
PVD occurs when liquefaction progresses until the vitreous separates from the retina. The vast majority of PVDs do not cause serious problems, but many people notice annoying floaters and occasional light flashes. There is a small chance that a PVD can cause a retinal tear. Retinal tears can lead to a detached retina if the tear is not treated. There is no way to tell if a PVD caused a retinal tear so anyone experiencing symptoms needs a prompt dilated retinal exam.
- Symptoms: flashes and floaters in which you experience cobwebs or speck-like floaters in the field of vision, they are usually black and float in and out of view.
Retinal Tears or Detachments
Anyone can have a tear or detachment but higher-risk factors include family history of vitreo-retinal problems, age, cardiovascular disease or diabetes, nearsightedness, previous eye surgery or trauma to the eye.
- Causes: As you age, the vitreous gel in your eye liquefies and shrinks, causing the retina to tear or detach. Certain diseases or trauma to the eye can cause scar tissue to form and pull on the retina. If not treated promptly, retinal problems can lead to permanent vision loss.
- Flashing lights
- New floaters or an increase in floaters
- A shadow in the periphery of your field of vision
- A gray curtain moving across your field of vision