What Does the Retina Do?
The retina plays a vital role in your vision. It’s a thin tissue that lines the inner surface of the back of the eye. Your retina contains light-sensitive cells that receive information and send it to the brain through the optic nerve, which enables you to see.
What is the primary function of the retina?
The retina contains millions of cells that work together to detect light, turn it into electrical signals and communicate with the brain to produce vision. These tiny photoreceptor cells are called cones and rods. Together cones and rods provide you with the ability to tell the difference between light and dark, as well as colors.
Cones are in the macula, or the central part of the retina. These cells enable you to see fine details and color. The macula is responsible for high-definition vision which allows you to read and drive.
Rods are more concentrated at the outer edges of the retina. These cells are used in peripheral vision and allow you to see in poor lighting.
How can I tell if I have a retina problem?
There are variety of retina conditions and diseases that we diagnose and treat at Austin Retina. Many retina problems can be detected during a routine eye exam before the onset of symptoms. Our retina specialists recommend annual eye exams to catch retina conditions early so treatment can begin as soon as possible.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, discuss them with your eye doctor immediately:
- Sudden onset of floaters (small to large dark spots blocking your vision)
- Flashes of light in one or both eyes
- Blurred vision
- Gradual reduction in peripheral (side) vision
- Curtain-like shadow over your visual field
What treatment options are available for a retinal tear or detachment?
At Austin Retina, our goal is slow disease progression and preserve, improve, or restore your vision. Some conditions, such as a retinal tear or detachment, are considered urgent and require treatment as soon as possible. If left untreated, you may experience permanent vision loss or blindness. Our board-certified retina surgeons will work with you to determine the best treatment available for your condition.
The following procedures are available to treat retinal tears and detachments:
A laser treatment can be used to seal retinal tears or holes to prevent further damage and retinal detachment.
For smaller retinal detachments, special air and gas mixtures can be injected in the eye to re-attach the retina. Once the retina is re-attached, a laser or freezing probe is used to seal any retinal holes or tears and “tack” the retina into position.
Vitrectomy is an outpatient procedure used to repair a detached retina. During vitrectomy, a retina surgeon removes the gel-like vitreous and replaces it with a saline solution. Removing the vitreous relieves any pulling that may be caused by vitreous gel fragments on the retinal surface. Air or gas mixtures replace fluid from underneath the retina and help the retina “float” back into position and re-attach. The mixture is eventually absorbed and naturally replaced by fluid in the eye. After the retina is re-attached, the holes or tears that caused the detachment can be sealed using a laser.
Often used in conjunction with vitrectomy, a scleral buckle is an elastic silicone band placed around the eye. The scleral buckle provides support to the retina and relieves any traction on the retinal surface. These are typically left permanently in the eye and tolerated well by patients.
In complex retinal detachments, silicone oil may be used to replace the vitreous to provide a long-term barrier against re-detachment. After the retina is stable, the silicone oil is removed.
For questions or concerns about your retina health or to schedule an appointment at one of our 16 Central Texas locations with one of our retina specialists, call 800-252-8259 or request an appointment online.
Originally Posted on August 14, 2018