The retina is comprised of delicate nerve cells that connect to your brain, allowing vision to occur.
There are many diseases that can affect the retina, the most common being diabetes and macular degeneration. Other common problems include retinal tears or detachments, macular pucker, and macular holes.
Symptoms of these problems include seeing flashes or floaters, distorted vision, or reduced vision.
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should see an ophthalmologist right away.
Diabetic Retinopathy is the among the leading causes of loss of vision among adults in the United States. Diabetes is a disease where the blood glucose level is too high. Over time, this can cause damage to small blood vessels in the body. As one would imagine, the retina contains many small blood vessels susceptible to damage due to diabetes.
Regular eye examinations are the only way to identify the presence of Diabetic Retinopathy and initiate timely treatment. Diabetic retinopathy often times occurs without symptoms, so patients may not be aware of having it at all. Fortunately, treatment is available for diabetic retinopathy to prevent blindness from this disease.
Macular degeneration is a disease of the central portion of the retina. The macula is the small, central portion of the retina, necessary for sharp, central vision. This is the part of the retina used for reading, for seeing street signs, or for recognizing faces at a distance. There are two basic forms of macular degeneration: “dry” and “wet”.
The “dry” form results in a very slow deterioration of central vision. The “wet” form of macular degeneration is less common and tends to result in rapid loss of vision. “Wet” macular degeneration is caused by the formation of new, unhealthy blood vessels within the macula. These blood vessels often leak or bleed, and cause swelling of the macula which results in a sudden and severe loss of central vision. Fortunately, medications are now available to treat “wet” macular degeneration. It is very important to have regular eye examinations to detect macular degeneration because early treatment can prevent blindness from this disease.