Northwest Eye provides a wide range of treatments for retina disorders. With the addition of fellowship-trained retina specialist Marni Feldmann to our talented ophthalmology staff, we offer expanded services and appointment availability to Minnesota patients with retinal disorders.
What Is the Retina?
The retina is a thin layer of nerve cells located at the back of the eye. When light enters the front of the eye, it is focused on the macula. The macula is in the center of the retina.
After it is converted into electrical impulses, the optic nerve sends these impulses to the brain. The retina is a critical part of this incredible process that allows us to see images.
How Are Retinal Disorders Treated?
There is a wide range of retina diseases and conditions, and their treatments vary. What they have in common is that most require ongoing care and treatment.
Any patient at risk for retina problems or who has already been diagnosed with one should have regular dilated eye examinations and follow-up with an ophthalmologist. Early treatment is essential in helping you retain as much vision as possible.
Some of the more well-known retinal problems that we treat at Northwest Eye are:
- Macular degeneration
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Retinal tears/retinal detachments
- Retinal vascular occlusion
- Inflammatory eye disease (or ocular inflammation)
- Macular edema
What is Macular Degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration (also known as AMD or ARMD) is a disease that causes deterioration of the retina and choroid. It is the leading cause of loss of visual acuity (sharp vision) in adults over age 50.
There are two types of macular degeneration (AMD). While macular degeneration does not cause total blindness, it interferes with necessary life functions. In later stages, both AMD types involve loss of central vision, which affects the ability to read, drive, recognize faces, and do close work.
Wet Macular Degeneration occurs when blood vessels grow beneath the retina. They can leak blood and other fluid into the retina, causing damage and swelling to the macula.
Dry Macular Degeneration occurs when the macula thins. Areas of wasting may occur in the retina.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy affects the blood vessels in the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.
In the early stages, you can manage vision loss from diabetic retinopathy with proper medical management. However, it can lead to severe vision loss and blindness if diabetes is not under control. The blood vessels may leak fluid, or new, abnormal blood vessels may grow on the retina’s surface.
- Non-proliferative retinopathy (NPDR) is the early stage of the disease. Small areas of swelling occur, and the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) can begin to leak. Eventually, the blood vessels to the macula can close off.
- Proliferative retinopathy (PDR) is an advanced stage of retinopathy. Growth factors generate new blood vessels that grow along the retina’s surface and into the vitreous gel (the fluid that fills the back of the eye). The fragile blood vessels often bleed and leak.
- Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) often occurs with diabetic retinopathy. Fluid (called edema) builds up in the macula, the central part of the retina. Macular edema can damage the central vision if not treated promptly.
What are Retinal Tears and Retinal Detachments?
Retinal tears or detachment occurs when the retina detaches from the back of the eye. The retina will not function if it separates from its blood supply.
Retinal detachments can occur suddenly for various reasons, including aging, eye surgery, and eye injury. Symptoms include “floaters” in the eye, flashing light, and a shadow on the side of the eye that may progress towards the center of vision. Retinal detachments require an evaluation and immediate treatment to minimize severe vision loss.
What Are Eye Floaters and Flashes?
Many people experience annoying symptoms known as flashers and floaters in the eye, especially during middle age. Although they are often harmless, flashes and floaters can indicate a more serious condition that you should have checked right away. You should contact Northwest Eye right away if you notice the sudden appearance of multiple floaters or flashes of light.
If you have a family history or symptoms of retina disease, make an appointment today for a comprehensive evaluation with our Northwest Eye retina specialist.