What is the retina, and why is it important?
Light has to travel through the eye before it reaches the retina. The retina is a clear, light-sensitive covering that lines the inside of the eye. One might think of it as the "film inside a camera" that takes the images you see and sends them along the optic nerve to the brain, where the "pictures" you see are interpreted as vision. Prompt detection of disease in the retina is important to begin treatment, stop its progress and/or avoid permanent damage to your vision.
Diagnosing Retina Conditions
A healthy retina is essential to maintaining clear vision and overall eye functioning. A diagnostic retinal exam may be recommended if any potential retinal abnormalities are detected during a general eye exam. Patients at a higher risk for developing retinal conditions may also be recommended for examination.
During a retinal exam and consultation, your doctor will perform a series of diagnostic procedures in order to evaluate the retina for any signs of disease or abnormality. These tests may include a visual field test, fluorescein angiography, fundus photography and more.
At North Toronto Eye Specialists, our most precise, detailed retinal results are produced by the Cirrus OCT system. Cirrus Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is an advanced testing system that allows your doctor to clearly see the inside of the eye to detect and treat a variety of conditions before they progress. A detailed image of the eye is created with this system in order to visualize the thickness of the retina, macula and optic nerve and accurately detect any potential retinal problems in their earliest stages.
Our office is now equipped with a Diode Retinal Laser, allowing our doctors to perform the most advanced and effective laser procedures as needed. Laser procedures provide quick, painless treatment for many different retinal conditions, including macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. These procedures can now be performed directly in the office during your regular appointment, eliminating the hassle of other treatments.
Below are some of the common retinal diseases:
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that weakens the blood vessels that supply nourishment to the retina (the light-sensitive lining in the back of the eye where vision is focused). These weak vessels can leak, swell or develop thin branches, causing a loss of vision. Changes to your vision may not be noticeable at first. But in its advanced stages, the disease can cause blurred or cloudy vision, floaters and blind spots – and, eventually, blindness. This damage is irreversible. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye complication and a leading cause of blindness in American adults. Macular edema, which is leaking fluid that causes blurred vision, often occurs with diabetic retinopathy.
Fortunately, diabetic retinopathy is preventable. People with diabetes are most susceptible to developing it, but your risk is reduced if you follow your prescribed diet and medications, exercise regularly, control your blood pressure, and avoid alcohol and cigarettes. Regular eye exams are an integral part of making sure your eyes are healthy. Diabetic retinopathy can be detected through a visual acuity test, a dilated eye exam or tonometry.
Although damage caused by diabetic retinopathy cannot be corrected, patients diagnosed with the condition can be treated to slow its progression and prevent further vision loss. Treatment modalities include laser and surgical procedures.
The macula is a part of the retina in the back of the eye that ensures that our central vision is clear and sharp. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) occurs when the arteries that nourish the retina harden. Deprived of nutrients, the retinal tissues begin to weaken and die, causing vision loss. Patients may experience anything from a blurry, gray or distorted area to a blind spot in the center of vision.
AMD is the number-one cause of vision loss in the U.S. Macular degeneration doesn't cause total blindness because it doesn't affect the peripheral vision. Possible risk factors include genetics, age, diet, smoking and sunlight exposure. Regular eye exams are highly recommended to detect macular degeneration early and prevent permanent vision loss.
Symptoms of macular degeneration include:
There are two kinds of macular degeneration: "wet" and "dry." The "wet" form can be treated in its early stages.
Prescription medicine for the treatment of patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is also available, and may include:
LUCENTIS is a revolutionary treatment designed to slow vision loss in patients with neovascular ("wet") age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This is an FDA-approved treatment specifically developed for the treatment of wet AMD. It works by stopping the body from producing VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), a chemical that makes abnormal blood vessels grow. This not only preserves the vision patients have now, it also may prevent future vision loss. LUCENTIS injections are given in a series of treatments spaced six weeks apart for a time determined by our doctors.
For more information, visit the LUCENTIS website at www.lucentis.com
Avastin is a medication that can reduce swelling in the macula, prevent further vision loss and even improve vision for some patients with AMD. It works by stopping the body from producing VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), a chemical that makes abnormal blood vessels grow. Avastin was originally developed to treat colorectal cancer and is FDA-approved for that purpose. However, studies have shown that Avastin can also effectively treat AMD and related eye conditions, and many ophthalmologists now offer it to their patients. Avastin is given in a series of injections about 4-6 weeks apart.
For more information about Avastin, visit www.avastin.com