Our eye specialists at The New Jersey Eye Center treat retina disorders.
What is a retina?
A retina is a complex layer of tissue at the back of the eye. It’s part of the central nervous system. If you have a retina disease or the retina is damaged your vision could be impaired.
Cells in the retina sensitive to light convert light energy into signals that travel via the optic nerve to the brain. These cells include photoreceptor cells, bipolar cells, and ganglion cells. Photoreceptor cells can be rods (providing black-and-white vision), or cones (for seeing colors). A dimple in the center of the retina provides the eye’s sharpest vision.
One of the most common retina disorders is macular degeneration. The condition slowly destroys your central vision, making it difficult to read or recognize faces.
“Age-related macular degeneration” is a disease that tends to affect people over 50. The retina tends to grow thinner as we age.
Sight loss is usually gradual, but in rarer cases it can be much quicker. However, your peripheral vision remains, meaning that you do not go completely blind.
At The New Jersey Eye Center our treatments aim to help patients make the most of their remaining vision. For example, magnifying lenses make reading easier. As with most diseases, early diagnosis of macular degeneration can help patients better adapt and cope.
Retina disorders – tears and detachments
Retinal tears occur when part of the retina pulls out of its normal position. Symptoms indicating this might be happening can include the sudden appearance of flashes. At the same time, any floaters (roving specks) in the eye may suddenly increase in size or number. Other symptoms include seeing a shadow at the periphery of your vision, or a sudden reduction of vision. Blurred vision and seeing a curtain-like shadow moving across your field of vision are also possible symptoms.
It’s important to act upon such symptoms quickly to minimize the risk of permanent vision loss. You may be at greater risk if you are extremely near-sighted or you have a family history of retinal detachments.
Causes of retinal detachment include injury, diabetes or the leaking of gel-like material (vitreous) through a retinal tear.
New Jersey Eye Center also treats diabetic retinopathy, which causes damage to the retina’s blood vessels. If you have diabetes, you have a good chance of having diabetic retinopathy.
Symptoms include blurred vision, the appearance of floaters, difficulty with color perception, and eye pain.
Diabetes causes elevated sugar levels, and this can damage the small blood vessels feeding the retina. Diabetic macular edema occurs when damaged blood vessels leak fluid into the retina, causing a swelling in the center of the eye.
The longer you have had diabetes the more at risk of diabetic retinopathy you are. Other risk factors are high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
To test for diabetic retinopathy the specialist normally puts drops in the eyes to make them open wide. This allows a better view of the retina.
Uveitis covers many eye problems but broadly speaking it is a kind of eye inflammation. It affects part of the eye wall (uvea). Uveitis can cause swellings that damage or destroy eye tissues. Symptoms can appear suddenly and include redness of the eye, pain and blurred vision. People aged 20-50 are most likely to be affected.
Autoimmune disease, infection, or injury appear to be the main causes. The condition can lead to permanent vision loss, so early diagnosis and treatment are vital.
The uvea lies between the white part of your eye – the sclera – and the inner layers of your eye.
The uvea contains the iris, the ciliary body (helps the eye focus) and the choroid (blood vessels that bring nutrients to the retina).
Retinal vasculitis causes blurred vision, floaters and decreased the perception of colors. Vascular branches of the retinal artery become inflamed.
Temporal arteritis is a blood vessel inflammation that may lead to blurred vision. In some cases, it can block the artery to the eye resulting in blindness. It is most common in those aged over 70. Treatment options include high doses of steroids.
If you have any concerns or questions relating to retina disorders please contact The New Jersey Eye Center. Our Retina Specialist, Dr. Lauren Kallina, will discuss with you and recommend the best appropriate treatment for you.