Ophthalmology

Retina

WHAT IS IT

Retinal diseases are a range of disorders that affect the thin layer of tissue lining the back of the eye. The retina, which is responsible for receiving light and converting it into neural signals for the brain, is one of the most important parts of the eye.


  • RETINAL DETACHMENT: A retinal detachment is a separation of the retina from the underlying layers of the eye wall.

  • MACULAR DEGENERATION: Macular degeneration affects people age 50 years and older and is associated with central vision loss.

  • DIABETIC RETINOPATHY: Diabetic Retinopathy is caused by the elevated blood sugar damaging the small blood vessels in the retina.

  • RETINAL VEIN OCCLUSION: Retinal vein occlusion is a blockage in the blood vessel of your eye that can result in sight loss.


SYMPTOMS

  • Sudden appearance of floaters in the vision

  • Blurred vision

  • Flashes of light in one or both eyes

  • “Shadow” over visual field

  • Loss of vision


TREATMENTS

  • Vitrectomy. When the vitreous causes a retinal detachment or fills with blood causing  poor vision, the vitreous — a clear, jelly-like substance within the eyeball — may need to be removed during a vitrectomy. During this procedure, the surgeon creates a small incision in the wall of the eye and removes the vitreous with a tiny vacuum cutter, and the fluid is replaced with natural salt water. The goal is to help improve visual acuity. Some will experience mild discomfort or redness for a few days after the surgery, which can be relieved by over the counter or prescription pain medication.

  • Scleral buckle surgery. Sometimes used to treat retinal detachment [link to retinal detachment condition page], scleral buckle surgery involves the surgeon attaching a small piece of silicone rubber to the outside of the white of the eye. Once in place, the buckle lightly squeezes the eye so that the detached retina returns back into place.

  • Pneumatic retinopexy. During this procedure to treat some types of retinal tears, a surgeon will inserts a gas bubble into the eye to gently push the retina back into place. The bubble is eventually absorbed by the fluid within the eye.

  • Laser photocoagulation procedures use a laser beam to permanently weld the retina to the wall of the eye.

  • Cryopexy procedures apply a freezing probe to the outside of the eye, and the freezing penetrates into the eye. The retinal tear is frozen inside the eye, and scar tissue anchors the retina in place.


* During vitrectomy, scleral buckle surgery or pneumatic retinopexy, the surgeon will usually perform additional procedures to seal the retina in place and to ensure that it does not tear again. These secondary surgeries are known as laser photocoagulation and cryopexy.


WHAT TO EXPECT

Retinal issues are serious, and most require immediate medical and surgical attention from an ophthalmologist. Because every retinal problem is unique, each patient requires an individualized approach.


BENEFITS OF GOING HERE

WILLS EYE HOSPITAL

Our retinal specialist team has pioneered the clinical care, research efforts, and development of all major innovations in retina care for 60 years. These highly-skilled and experienced surgeons have been intimately involved in the development of most of the treatments for many retinal diseases, including the latest treatments for macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

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