Retina and Vitreous Disease
The retina is located at the back of the eye. It contains the delicate inner lining of the eye that contains cells that sense light and blood vessels that nourish them. It sends signals to your brain through the optic nerve, where the signals are interpreted as images. Because the role of the retina is important, damage to it can lead to permanent blindness.
Retinal detachment occurs when the retina separates from the outer layer of the eye. The retina gets detached when the vitreous gel, the clear jelly-like fluid that is loosely attached to the retina, grows smaller and pulls away from the retina. This causes a retinal tear or hole. The vitreous then leaks through the tear and pushes away the retina from the back wall of the eye. Retinal tears may also develop due to aging or when new blood vessels grow under the retina as a result of diabetic retinopathy. Retinal detachment can occur at any age, but it is more common in men and in people who:
- Are over 40 years old
- Have a family history of retinal detachment
- Have extreme nearsightedness
- Have had previous eye injury or trauma
- Have advanced diabetes
Retinal detachment cannot be prevented. Surgeries may be performed to repair a retinal tear, hole or detachment. If left untreated, it can also lead to permanent vision loss. Annual comprehensive eye exams are vital in early detection and treatment. Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing clear or gray spots or strings floating across your vision (floaters), flashes of lights, blurry or poor vision and a curtain-like shadow over your field of vision.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration is the deterioration or “wear and tear” of the macula, the part of the eye that is responsible for central vision and recognition of fine details and colors. It causes a slow yet painless loss of central vision and may affect one or both eyes. However, it does not lead to total blindness.
This condition can be classified accordingly:
- Dry macular degeneration – is the presence of yellow deposits in the macula called drussen
- Wet macular degeneration – characterized by growths of new blood vessels in the retina
People suffering from this eye condition may have blind spots at the center of vision. They can see the outline of the clock but unable to tell the time. Some may have distorted vision (straight lines seeming bent), experience difficulty recognizing different shades of colors, need brighter light when reading or have a hard time adapting to low light levels.
While macular degeneration is common in women and in people over 65 years old, you are likely to develop it if you:
- Have a family member with macular degeneration
- Are hypertensive
- Are obese
At present, there is no cure for macular degeneration. Laser treatments and injections may be done to slow progression of the condition and preserve vision. If these treatment options are not appropriate and do not stop the process, therapy should focus on helping patient cope with the loss of central vision. Asian Eye offers Low Vision and Visual Rehabilitation Service that may help patients maximize their remaining vision and allow them continue doing the activities they enjoy.
A complication of diabetes, diabetic retinopathy occurs when high levels of blood sugar damage the small blood vessels that supply blood to the eye. This causes the blood vessels to leak fluid. Anyone with diabetes can suffer from this condition. You may be at higher risk if you:
- Have had diabetes for over 10 years
- Have poorly controlled blood sugar
- High blood pressure
- Have high cholesterol
- Are pregnant
At first, diabetic retinopathy has no symptoms. As it progresses, symptoms may include black, clear or gray spots or strings floating across your vision (floaters), blurry vision, dark areas in your vision, or worse, vision loss.
Laser treatment or vitrectomy may be done to slow down or stop the progression of diabetic retinopathy. Because diabetes is a lifelong condition, vision loss is still possible. Getting your eyes checked twice a year can monitor your eye condition and help prevent vision loss.