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What is Retinal Disease?

Retinal diseases are conditions or disorders that affect your retina causing visual symptoms. The retina is a thin layer of tissue present on the inner surface of the back of your eyeball.

Retinal Anatomy

The retina is composed of millions of specialized light-sensitive cells that are capable of receiving and organizing visual information which is transmitted through the optic nerve to your brain allowing you to see.

What are the Causes of Retinal Disease?

Retinal diseases may occur due to:

  • Age-related deterioration
  • Diseases such as diabetes or hypertension
  • Eye trauma
  • Genetic disorders

What are the Symptoms of Retinal Disease?

Some common symptoms of retinal disease are:

  • Seeing small specks or strands floating through your field of vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Vision distortion
  • Loss of vision

What if Retinal Disease is left Untreated?

Any sudden changes in vision such as seeing floaters or flashes of light should be immediately brought to the attention of your doctor as they might indicate a serious eye disease, which if left untreated could permanently impair your vision.

What are Common Types of Retinal Disease?

Common retinal diseases include:

  • Retinal tears: A retinal tear may occur when the central gel-like substance of your eyeball shrinks and pulls on the retinal tissue lining the inner surface of the eyeball.
  • Retinal detachment: This may occur when fluid passes through a retinal tear causing it to become detached from the underlying tissue.
  • Diabetic retinopathy: Diabetes can cause deterioration of the tiny capillaries in the eye resulting in leakage of fluid into the retina, retinal swelling, and vision distortion.
  • Epiretinal membrane: It is a thin layer of scar tissue that forms on the surface of the retina.
  • Macular hole: It is a small hole present in the centre of the retina.
  • Macular degeneration: This is the deterioration of the central portion of your retina which causes blurring of vision or blind spots.
  • Retinitis pigmentosa: This is a genetic disorder that results in the deterioration of the retina.

Diagnosis of Retinal Disease

Your eye doctor will make a diagnosis based on your symptoms, medical history, and a full eye examination. In some cases, special tests may also be ordered such as:

  • Amsler grid test to clarify the central vision
  • Optical coherence tomography to capture precise retinal images
  • Fluorescein angiography to detect blood vessel abnormalities
  • Ultrasound to detect eye tumours
  • CT/MRI to detect eye abnormalities

Treatment of Retinal Disease

The various treatment options include:

  • Laser surgery: This is done to repair a tear or a hole in your retina.
  • Scatter laser photocoagulation: This procedure causes shrinking of abnormal blood vessels to prevent bleeding into the eye.
  • Cryopexy: This procedure involves the use of a freezing probe to treat a retinal tear.
  • Pneumatic retinopexy: This procedure involves the injection of a gas or air into the eye to treat retinal detachment.
  • Scleral buckling: This procedure involves suturing a material to the outer eye surface to relieve some of the forces acting on the retina to treat retinal detachment.
  • Vitrectomy: This procedure involves the removal of the central gel-like fluid from the eye and its replacement with air, gas, or fluid.
  • Medication injections: Injecting certain medications into the eye may help treat conditions such as macular degeneration, capillary abnormalities, and diabetic retinopathy.
  • Retinal prosthesis: In very rare instances involving blindness or severe loss of vision, surgical implantation of a retinal prosthesis may be helpful.

Prognosis for Retinal Disease Treatment

In many cases, early detection and treatment of retinal disease will stop or slow down disease progression and restore vision.

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