The retina is a light-sensitive tissue that lines the back interior of the eye. The retina is responsible for converting the light that enters your eye into signals that get sent to the brain. With this information, your brain creates an image and allows you to see what is in front of you.
The retina is made up of millions of light-sensitive photoreceptors. These photoreceptor cells need to be healthy in order for you to see. If they die off, they cannot be brought back and can result in permanent blindness. The retina is fairly resilient, but it is also susceptible to many different diseases and conditions over your lifetime.
Common Retinal Diseases
Retinal diseases can cause severe vision loss, so it is important to get your eyes examined regularly to catch them before they cause damage.
Macular degeneration is a condition that causes the macula (the central portion of the retina) to deteriorate. This condition can cause central vision loss, as the macula is responsible for clear, central vision. Macular degeneration (AMD) varies in severity, and there are two main types: dry AMD and wet AMD. Dry AMD is common and less severe, although lifestyle changes may be required to stop its progression. Wet AMD is more severe and can cause severe vision loss. Wet AMD may require injections and surgery to reduce vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy is caused by uncontrolled blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. Diabetic retinopathy causes the tiny blood vessels in the retina to become swollen. These blood vessels can also leak fluid and blood into the eye cavity. This can cause blind spots in vision, as the fluid blocks light from getting to the retina. Diabetic retinopathy, when left untreated, can progress into a severe form called “proliferative retinopathy”.
Proliferative retinopathy means that the retina is growing new, abnormal blood vessels to make up for the damaged ones. The only problem with this is that these new blood vessels are weak and more prone to breaking, which makes matters worse. This condition can be treated with medication, lifestyle change, and surgery.
Retinal detachment is a condition that causes the retina to lift off of the wall of the eye. When the retina is not attached properly to the eye, it loses access to blood, which starves it from oxygen. The lack of oxygen in the retina will cause cells to quickly die off, causing severe vision loss. For this reason, retinal detachment is considered a medical emergency and must be treated immediately to conserve vision. Surgery is required to fix a retinal detachment.
If you would like to learn more about the retina and how to keep your retina healthy, request an appointment with Aloha Vision Consultants today!