Retinal diseases encompass a range of illnesses that affect the retina of the eye — a thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye that converts light into neural signals that the brain can then form into images.
Age, illness, and injury can all impact this delicate tissue and cause a variety of complications, including partial or complete loss of vision. Other symptoms include floaters, blurred vision, flashes of light, and shadows in the peripheral vision. It is important to see a retina specialist at the earliest signs of these symptoms in order to address the root cause and minimize long-term vision loss.
Scroll down to learn about some of the most common retinal illnesses, including retinal detachment, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy, and follow the links to the left for more in-depth information.
There are two types of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a disorder common in people over 50 years of age. Dry AMD, is the more common subtype of AMD and, refers to deposits under the retina that can lead to deterioration of vision cells over long periods of time. Wet AMD refers to the spontaneous growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina that cause leakage of fluid and/or bleeding that, left untreated, results in more rapid central vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy refers to microscopic damage to the blood vessels in the retina that occurs over time as a result of elevated blood sugar levels. In early stages, a patient may not have any visual symptoms, but as the disease progresses, floaters, blurred vision, and complete loss of vision can occur. Controlling the diabetes and timely diagnosis and intervention by a retina specialist can help to preserve and possibly improve vision.
Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion (BRVO) is a blockage of blood flow in a branch of the central retinal vein, which is responsible for bringing blood from the retina back to the heart. Symptoms include floaters, blurred vision, and loss of peripheral vision.
Central Retinal Vein Occlusion (CRVO) is a blockage of the central retinal vein, which is often more severe than a BRVO. This disruption in blood flow often results in swelling of the optic nerve through which the central retinal vein normally exits the eye as well as leakage of blood and fluid into the retina. Symptoms of CRVO include sudden, painless loss of vision in the affected eye, which can worsen rapidly in a matter of hours or days.
Central Serous Chorioretinopathy (CSCR) is a disorder that most commonly affects young- to middle-aged adults in which fluid painlessly accumulates under the retina. Stress and steroid medications are major risk factors for CSCR. Symptoms include distortion, blurring, and/or a blind or gray spot in the central vision. Often CSCR often resolves on its own over 2-4 months. However, it may persist or become a recurrent issue, which may require treatment in order to avoid gradual deterioration of vision.
Cystoid Macular Edema (CME) refers to cyst-like pockets of fluid that arise in the macula, the center of the retina. CME is a painless disorder that can lead to blurred and distorted central vision. There are many potential causes of CME and a variety of potential treatment options.
A macular hole is a defect that forms in the macula, which results in distortion, blurring, and/or blind spots in central vision. If left untreated, the hole will expand in size over time, leading to further deterioration of central vision. Prompt diagnosis and surgical treatment will result in better final visual prognosis.
A macular pucker (also called an epiretinal membrane) occurs when scar tissue forms on the surface of the macula and and pulls on the delicate retina tissue, which results in distortion and/or blurring of central vision. This condition is usually slowly progressive, but surgery is often effective and helpful.
The central retinal artery and its branches are responsible for delivering blood and oxygen to the retina. A blockage will result in a sudden painless loss of vision and requires immediate medical attention to identify and treat associated medical conditions.
A retinal tear can arise from trauma or due to posterior vitreous detachment, which involves the age-related separation of the vitreous gel in the eye from the underlying retina. Laser treatment is a highly effective way to seal a tear in the office to reduce the odds of progression to retinal detachment.
A retinal detachment is when part of the retinal tissue detaches from the blood vessels supplying it with blood and oxygen. Floaters, flashes of light, and either visual shadows or a curtain are common symptoms. Without treatment, the consequence is total vision loss. Even when repaired surgically there is often some residual and permanent blurry vision or distortion, particularly with more extensive retinal detachments. The prognosis is best when detected early after the initial onset of visual symptoms.
If you’re searching “best ophthalmologist near me,” you’ve come to the right place. At Wills Eye Physicians – Mid Atlantic Retina, we offer diagnostics and treatments for most retinal diseases, which includes innovative surgeries and today’s most advanced treatment techniques. We have office locations throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey and our physicians are the principal members of the faculty on the Retina Service of Wills Eye Hospital. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, find a Wills Eye Physicians – Mid Atlantic Retina office near you today and schedule an appointment with one of our world-renowned retinal specialists.