Maintaining Retina Health for Good Vision
Retinal diseases can vary widely but most are associated with visual impairment. Depending on the condition, treatment goals at Eye Medical Clinic may be to stop or slow the progression of disease, and to preserve, improve or restore vision. Left untreated, some retinal diseases can cause severe vision loss or even blindness.
The retina is the nerve-rich, light-sensing area at the back of the eye. This complex layer has many parts, but its primary job is to sense light and send signals to the brain so you can see.
A retina specialist is a medical doctor who has completed additional training in Ophthalmology and then subspecialty training in issues related to the retina. Specifically, our retina specialist, Dr. Tamer Hadi, is a board-certified Ophthalmologist who has undergone focused fellowship training in the diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of complex retinal conditions.
There are a number of conditions that affect the retina (diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and retinal detachments are the big ones) and need to be diagnosed and treated by an experienced retina specialist. Sometimes, flashes of lights and floaters in your vision are harmless and nothing to worry about, and at other times, they can be an early sign of a problem that needs careful and timely attention to preserve your vision! Remember, a retina specialist has the additional training and expertise to diagnose and treat a host of conditions relating to the retina.
Advances in technology have made it possible for us to diagnose many retina conditions sooner, which can result in earlier intervention and more preservation of sight. Eye Medical Clinic is a regional leader in the diagnosis and treatment of many retina conditions.
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common microvascular complication among people with diabetes and results in more than 10,000 new cases of blindness each year.
Diabetes causes weakening of the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. Fluid and blood leak from the weakened vessels and new vessels that grow can be distorted and then bleed. These vessels can injure the retina, leading to loss of vision.
Diabetic retinopathy typically develops without any warning signs. Damage to the eye can occur slowly and may go unnoticed until there is significant damage. For this reason, anyone with diabetes should receive regular monitoring by a retina specialist.
Each treatment plan is highly individualized and will be based on your age, medical history, lifestyle and degree of damage to your retina. In its earliest stages, diabetic retinopathy may not require treatment beyond regular monitoring by your Eye Medical Clinic doctor.
If treatment is required, your Eye Medical Clinic surgeon will explain all options including risks, benefits, and alternatives before starting the most appropriate treatment course for you. Medical management in the clinic typically includes intravitreal injections for diabetic macular edema and laser therapy to seal or shrink leaking blood vessels in a process called photocoagulation. In severe cases, the retina can become detached due to diabetic retinopathy and may require surgery.
Macular degeneration (AMD) is an age-related eye disease that runs in families. It results in central vision loss (what you see when you look straight ahead) and is the leading cause of blindness in people aged 65 and older. It occurs when the small, central part of the retina, called the macula, deteriorates. There are two types of AMD: dry (the most common type) and wet.
Treatment for dry AMD begins with routine eye exams, especially after age 60, with the goal of early detection. If detected, your Eye Medical Clinic doctor may prescribe a mix of zinc and antioxidants to help in slowing the progression of the disease.
Wet AMD treatment can include a number of options including intravitreal injections that inhibit the growth of the abnormal blood cells that cause wet AMD.
The inside of the back of the eye is filled with a jelly-like substance—the vitreous—which is attached to the retina. As we all age, the vitreous liquifies and contracts. Rarely, this can precipitate a tear in the retina – especially in patients with a genetic predisposition, positive family history or personal history of trauma or injury to the eye. Symptoms typically include a sudden increase in floaters in one eye or the other, accompanied by flashing lights, and a veil or shadow covering part of the vision in that eye.
Tears can be a cause for concern because they allow fluid to separate the retina from the underlying tissue or wall of the eye. In such areas of retinal detachment, the vision goes dark – and if tears are not repaired in a timely fashion, vision loss may become permanent.
Depending on the severity of your retinal tear or detachment, treatment can range from office-based procedures to surgical solutions. These include: laser retinopexy or cryotherapy to seal tears with or without pneumatic retinopexy in which an expansile gas is injected into the eye to flatten the retina in the clinic, as well as surgical procedures such as scleral buckling or pars plana vitrectomy to repair detachments in the operating room. Our experienced vitreoretinal surgeon, Dr. Hadi, works one-on-one with patients to form the best treatment plan for these sight-threatening conditions.
Other retinal conditions we treat at Eye Medical Clinic include macular holes and epiretinal membranes that cause central loss or distortion in the vision, respectively, retinal vascular occlusions (similar to a stroke in the eye, often due to high blood pressure), endophthalmitis (or infection in the eye), as well as vitreoretinal surgery for vitreous hemorrhage and opacities. Dr. Hadi holds a particular interest in primary/secondary intraocular lens placement after complex cataract surgery.
Routine eye examinations by your Eye Medical Clinic eye doctor is the best safeguard for maintaining good vision at any stage of life. Schedule an appointment with our retina specialist today.