The retina is the eye’s innermost layer, and it contains a large number of light-sensitive photoreceptor cells. These cells sense light and convert it into electrical impulses, which are sent to the brain via the optic nerve and result in vision. Retinal abnormalities impact the retina and cause vision impairments in most people.
The human eye is a specialized organ that allows individuals to see by reacting to light. The retina is one of many structures in the eye that allow for vision.
Any part of the retina might be affected by retinal diseases. Some can have a little impact on a person’s eyes, while others might cause blindness. Most retinal problems, on the other hand, may be preventable if an eye doctor detects the problem early and treats it appropriately.
If a person’s retina is causing them trouble, they should visit an ophthalmologist. A doctor who specializes in ophthalmology, or eye care, is known as an ophthalmologist. A person with a retinal issue may need to see an eye specialist who specializes in retinal disorders. Vitreoretinal medicine is the name for this field of medicine.
This article goes through some of the most prevalent retinal problems and when you should see a doctor.
Common retinal disorders
The following are some of the most prevalent retinal issues.
When there is a tear or hole in the retina, it is called a retinal tear. When the vitreous, a jelly-like material in the eye, clings to the retina and pulls hard enough to tear it, this happens. This can occur as a consequence of trauma or when the vitreous detaches as a result of age.
Blurred vision, floaters, and flashes of light are all symptoms of retinal tears.
A retinal tear should be treated as soon as possible since it might lead to retinal detachment. This is a more significant vision-related issue.
When an accumulation of fluid, which generally enters through a retinal tear, causes the retina to detach from the choroid, the eye layer that delivers oxygen and nutrition, retinal detachment occurs.
Retinal detachment is a medical emergency that can result in irreversible vision loss if not treated.
Damage to the blood vessels at the rear of the eye produces retinopathy, which causes fluid to leak. This build-up of fluid can harm the retina and cause visual problems. Diabetes, hypertension, and cancer are among conditions that can cause retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is a frequent consequence of diabetes that is thought to be the main cause of blindness in people in the United States.
ERMs, also known as macular puckers or cellophane maculopathy, are a thin layer that occurs on the inner surface of the retina. Scar tissue is frequently the result of a medical condition or an injury.
Except when they impact the macula, or the center of the retina, which is critical for perceiving visual details and characteristics, ERMs seldom produce symptoms. The primary vision of a person may be distorted.
Macular holes, like retinal tears, are tiny fractures in the macula caused by an abnormal tugging between the vitreous and the retina.
Macular holes are most commonly caused by aging. Macular holes can also be caused by eye injuries.
Macular degeneration is commonly referred to as age-related macular degeneration by eye experts since it is more frequent in older persons (AMD).
The macula deteriorates in this disorder, resulting in distorted central vision that can worsen over time and lead to irreversible vision loss. According to a research published in 2021, macular degeneration is the most frequent retinal condition in the United States.
This syndrome can also be caused by autoimmune diseases including Behçet’s illness and lupus.
Retinitis pigmentosa is a rare genetic degenerative disease that causes the retina to break down and break cells. This can result in visual loss that worsens over time.
The most prevalent kind of eye cancer in newborns and young children is retinoblastoma, which is a cancer of the retina. Every year, roughly 200–300 children in the United States are diagnosed with cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
A common symptom is the lack of red reflex in the pupil when the child is having a photo taken.
Macular edema is a disorder in which fluids accumulate in the macula and cause it to enlarge.
Macular edema can be caused by a number of factors, including AMD, diabetes, and retinal vein blockage.
Retinal vein occlusion
Eye stroke, also known as retinal vein occlusion, is a blood vessel condition in which branches of the retinal vein become occluded, allowing fluid and blood to spill onto the retina.
The obstruction prevents blood flow, which can lead to nerve cell death and visual loss.
Retinal disorders can have a variety of symptoms in common, such as:
- seeing flashes of light
- the sudden appearance of floaters
- changes in vision
- blurry vision or a loss of vision in some areas of the visual field
- reduced central or side (peripheral) vision
- a sudden loss of vision
- changes in color perception
- difficulty seeing at night
- difficulty adjusting to light changes
Causes and risk factors
The development of retinal diseases can be influenced by a variety of factors.
One 2020 research, for example, found that becoming older, having diabetes or hypertension, and having previous eye surgery all raise the likelihood of developing retinal issues. A person’s chances of acquiring a retinal condition are further increased if they have a family history of them.
Individuals may also benefit by protecting their general health and taking care of their eyes. It may be necessary to make lifestyle adjustments such as eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, and stopping smoking.
People may also choose to use sunglasses or protective eyewear to protect themselves against eye damage or injury that might lead to retinal issues.
Ophthalmologists would often inquire about a person’s medical history before examining and diagnosing eye diseases such as retinal abnormalities. This allows them to explore for underlying issues that may be affecting their eyesight.
They’ll then do a thorough eye examination, with an emphasis on the retina and macula. They’ll examine the interior of the eye with an ophthalmoscope, which is a specialized device.
To see the inner eye better, the ophthalmologist may employ eye drops to expand (dilate) the pupil. They may also request an eye ultrasound and provide numbing eye drops to keep the patient comfortable while the eye is being scanned.
Ophthalmologists can also use optical coherence tomography (OCT) to create pictures of the retina or OCT angiography to create a three-dimensional image of the blood flow in the eye. They may also ask for dye tests, such as fluorescein angiography, to check for blood vessel leakage.
The treatment’s aims will be to either protect and restore eyesight or to prevent and slow down retinal deterioration.
Retinal abnormalities are treated differently based on the kind and severity of the problem. Medications and supplements, as well as injections, surgery, and laser treatments, are all possibilities.
The most appropriate treatment choices for an individual’s condition will be discussed with their eye doctor.
When should you see a doctor?
Children should receive frequent eye exams, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People with underlying diseases like diabetes, as well as those who are at a higher risk of certain eye disorders, should get frequent eye exams.
If you have any of the following symptoms, you should see an eye doctor very away:
- decreased vision
- sudden blurry vision
- double vision
- sudden visual disturbances, such as floaters and flashes
- persistent eye pain
- sensitivity to light
- an eye infection
- frequent squinting
- eye trauma or injury
Retinal disorders are diseases that damage the retina and can cause visual issues. To prevent and postpone the course of most retinal problems, early detection is essential.
Regular eye exams are recommended, especially if a person has a higher risk of retinal problems. If a person’s eyesight begins to deteriorate, he or she should consult an eye doctor.