Retina FAQ: A Guide for Our Patients
The retina plays a huge role in our ability to see. Here’s everything you need to know about this complex but delicate part of the eye.
1. What Is the Retina?
The retina is a thin layer of light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye. Its function is to receive light, convert that light into a neural signal, and send the signal via the optic nerve to the brain. The brain interprets these signals and creates an image.
2. What Is the Anatomy of the Retina?
The retina is less than an inch in diameter, about half a millimeter thick, and contains 200 million neurons. Different parts of the retina are responsible for various vision functions, with the most important part being the macula. The macula is a pigmented portion of the retina that lies in the very center and controls our central vision. It’s what allows us to see fine details, color, recognize faces, read, and more.
3. What Are Some Common Retinal Problems?
Because retinas are very delicate, there is a wide range of both minor and major conditions that a person can end up having. The most common major retinal conditions include:
- Holes, tears, and detachments, which occur when the retina is ruptured or separated from the eye through trauma, a condition, or aging
- Diabetic retinopathy, which is an eye disease that can cause blindness in people with diabetes
- Age-related macular degeneration, which occurs when the macula deteriorates because of age-related changes
4. What Are Some Common Symptoms of Retinal Problems?
For many retinal conditions, the earliest symptoms are often minor and common, such as blurred vision or floaters. Other symptoms that can indicate a more serious condition include:
- Double vision
- Peripheral vision loss
- Dimmed vision
- Distorted vision
- Blind spots
- Flashing lights
- Disruptive vision loss
5. How Are Retinal Problems Diagnosed?
There are many sophisticated diagnostic tests that can be used to determine the presence and severity of a retinal condition, such as:
- Optical coherence tomography
- Fundus photography
- Fluorescein angiography
- Indocyanine green angiography
- Autofluorescence photography
- Standardized A&B scan echography
- Visual field testing, or perimetry
6. How Are Retinal Problems Treated?
Treating retinal conditions can sometimes be a complex process. Depending on the condition and the severity, treatment options may include:
- Shrinking abnormal blood vessels
- Injecting medications into the eye
- Indenting the eye’s surface
- Cryopexy, in which retinal tears are treated using a freezing process
- Injection of air or gas into the eye
- Removing and replacing eye fluid, also known as vitrectomy
7. How Can I Protect My Retinal Health?
Although some retinal conditions are out of your control, you can improve your vision health by enforcing a few simple lifestyle habits, such as:
- Eating healthy
- Avoiding smoking
- Exercising regularly
- Wearing sunglasses and eye protection
- Having regular eye checkups
If you think you may be at risk for a retinal condition or are in need of treatment, contact the expert retina specialists and eye surgeons at Austin Retina Associates.