Suﬀering from these symptoms?
Partial loss of vision
Inability to see in dim light
Blurred or distorted vision
Which retinal conditions occur commonly?
The retina may be affected by various conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinal disease, retinal haemorrhages and retinal detachment. Most of these conditions present with variable visual loss, depending on the severity of the problem.
How are these treated?
The treatment will depend on the specific cause. If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, then seek medical attention as quickly as possible.
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More about Retinal Conditions, Retinal Diseases & FAQ’s
What are Retinal Diseases?
There are several different kinds of retinal diseases and/or conditions.
Most of these diseases will cause some kind of vision abnormality or disturbance, which is often the first sign of ailing optic health.
Retinal disease refers to diseases of the retina, or the thin layer of tissue on the inside back wall of the eye.
What does my retina do?
The retina is crucial to sight. It is the portion of the eye that contains millions of tiny rods and cones that essentially translate the reflection of light off objects into what your brain perceives as “sight”.
In other words, without these little photosensitive cells functioning optimally, your vision will be impaired, as your eye cannot tell your brain what you are “seeing” without the help of the retina.
Your retina receives and processes the information (light), and sends it on to the brain for analysis via the optic nerve.
When the retina is providing substandard or confusing information, the brain isn’t capable of deciphering the correct message, and so you cannot “see” properly.
When you have retinal disease and your retina isn’t conveying adequate information to the brain, you may perceive your vision as being negatively affected.
Sufferers of various retinal diseases have reported visual symptoms such as:
- Seeing “dust particles” or cobwebs in your field of vision
- Blurred vision
- Optic distortions (lines you know to be straight look wavy)
- Loss of vision
- Loss of peripheral vision
When should I see my doctor?
It is best practice to see your optometrist should you experience any abrupt or severe changes in your visual acuity.
While the cause may prove benign, or the symptom transient, it is always best to consult your physician about changes in your ability to see, so as to rule out retinal disease or injury.
What are the most common types of retinal disease & are they treatable?
Common retinal diseases or conditions include:
- A retinal tear
A retinal tear refers to an injury of the soft tissues which make up the retina.
The retina is the back portion or wall of the eye, but it is attached to the front “gel-like” portion of the eye, and if there is too much tension created between these two layers, the retinal layer can tear.
A retinal tear is associated with a sudden onset of symptoms including seeing flashing lights and floaters.
A retinal tear is easily treatable if caught early and should have no lasting negative impact on visual acuity.
- Retinal Detachment
In comparison to a retinal tear, a retinal detachment is almost always associated with permanent vision loss.
While treatment, including a variety of surgical options, is available,most patients unfortunately do not recover their full sight.
A retinal tear can lead to a retinal detachment if treatment is delayed, as a retinal detachment typically occurs when the ocular fluid passes through a retinal tear and causes the retina to completely detach from the underlying tissue.
- Diabetic Retinopathy
Those diagnosed with diabetes are at increased risk for the degeneration of the tiny blood vessels, called capillaries, that carry oxygen-rich blood to your eyes.
When these capillaries deteriorate, they can start to leak and this build-up of fluid can cause the retina to swell, blurring or distorting your vision.
In this case, prevention is better than cure, and treating your diabetes is your best bet to prevent the development of diabetic retinopathy.
- Epiretinal membrane
An epiretinal membrane is a thin piece of tissue, almost like scar tissue, that develops on top of the retina. It looks like a piece of crinkled cellophane, and distorts your vision accordingly.
Surgical correction is possible, and about 75% of patients experience an improvement in their visual acuity post-surgery when compared to their symptomatic vision.
- Macular hole
The macula is responsible for the sharpest portion of your vision.
It is in the centre of the retina, and sometimes a hole can develop in the macula as a result of injury to the eye, or as a result of traction between the retina and the vitreous.
Macular holes can be corrected surgically, and most patients’ vision improves again post-surgery.
- Macular degeneration
Similar to a macular hole, macular degeneration occurs when the central portion of the retina begins to deteriorate.
This can cause a blind spot in your vision, among other vision changes.
There are two kinds of macular degeneration – wet, and dry.
Most cases begin as dry degeneration, and can progress to wet degeneration if left untreated.
Laser surgical, as well as less invasive treatment options are available to try and halt the progress of the disease and maintain or restore sight.
- Retinitis Pigmentosa
Also called rod cone dystrophy, this is a genetic, degenerative disease of the retina.
Symptoms often begin in early childhood and treatment for this disease is limited to taking reasonable steps to preserve rather than improve a patient’s vision.
There is currently no cure for retinitis pigmentosa.
What increases my risk of retinal disease?
Smoking, diabetes, eye injury, and aging all increase your risk of developing retinal disease.
Some retinal diseases have also proven to have a genetic component, so a family history of retinal disease may increase your personal risk of developing one.