Credit Card Icon
Online bill pay
Calendar Icon
Schedule Consultation
Filed Paper Icon
patient portal
Doctor Icon
For Physicians
Phone Icon
(763) 416-7600

Retina

Closeup of a Retina

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.

Chart Illustrating a Healthy Eye Compared to One With A Degenerated Macula

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.

View Video

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.

  • Blurred or fuzzy vision
  • Dark or empty areas in the center of your vision
  • Vision distortion where straight lines appear wavy
  • Seeing spots
  • Patients with very early symptoms need annual vision monitoring with dilated eye exams. Many cases of AMD do not progress to severe vision loss.
  • Laser treatments
  • Intra-vitreal injections – The injection of anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) drugs into the vitreous cavity (retina location) can be a highly effective treatment for advanced wet AMD. These injections are done in your retina specialist’s office. Anti-VEGF drugs stop the growth of new blood vessels in the eye. Most patients require a series of injections, so they require periodic monitoring to evaluate when additional treatments with the anti-VEGF agents are needed.

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.

Chart Illustrating a Healthy Eye Compared to One With Diabetic Retinopathy
  • 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.
  • Blurry vision, or vision that changes from blurry to clear
  • An increasing number of floaters
  • Blank or dark areas in the field of vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Colors appear dim or faded
  • Reasonable control of blood sugar and blood pressure can stave off the progression of diabetic retinopathy. Adherence to a diabetic diet and compliance with taking diabetic medications as prescribed is essential to controlling blood sugar.
  • Intra-vitreal (Anti-VEGF) injections can control swelling of the macula.
  • Laser treatments may be used to help seal off leaking blood vessels and stop swelling of the retina.
  • In advanced cases of PDR, vitrectomy surgery may be recommended to remove blood and scar tissue from the back of the eye.

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.

Chart Showing How a Retinal Detachment Affects an Eye

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.

  • Sudden flashing lights
  • Multiple “floaters” in the eye
  • Shadow on the side of the eye that may progress towards the center of vision.
  • Gray curtain covering part of the field of vision

Most retinal detachments can be treated successfully by a variety of methods:

  • Laser surgery – A laser treatment that helps “weld” the retina back in place by making tiny burns around the retinal tear.
  • Cryopexy – A freezing treatment that helps reattach the retina by freezing the area around the retinal tear.
  • Pneumatic Retinopexy – A gas bubble is placed inside the eye to hold the retina in place.
  • Vitrectomy – A surgical treatment that involves replacing the gel-like substance in the eye with gas, which creates pressure that holds the retina in place.
  • Scleral buckle – The surgical placement of a scleral buckle (a tiny rubber or plastic band) gently holds the eyeball and the detached retina together.

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.

Floaters are specks or threads that occasionally appear in people’s fields of vision. A floater is a tiny cluster of cells that breaks off from the vitreous gel in the back of the eye. Although floaters appear to be in the front of the eye, people see shadows of the cell clusters across the retina. They tend to float across the eye when it is not moving.

Occasional floaters are not dangerous, and doctors usually do not recommend treatment for them. They tend to fade or go away over time. Looking up or down or from side to side can move them out of the field of vision.

Flashes are spots of light that come from inside the eye. Some people describe them as shooting stars or lightning streaks across your vision. They can be a small flash in one spot or several flashes across a wider area. Most flashes happen when the vitreous gel inside the eye shrinks or changes, pulling on the retina.

Occasional flashes are common with aging and don’t need any treatment. However, sudden, repeated flashes are often indicative of a retinal tear or detachment. Patients with these symptoms need urgent evaluation by a Northwest Eye ophthalmologist.

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.

locations

Serving Our Community

With six locations throughout the Twin Cities metro area, Northwest Eye is among the largest eye care providers in the Midwest. Be Eye Wise and schedule a general eye exam or a specific service consultation today. We have optical  at the following offices:  Golden Valley, Minnetonka, Maple Grove, St. Anthony, and Wayzata, MN.

8501 Golden Valley Rd., Suite 100
Golden Valley, MN 55427
Additional Golden Valley Information
12000 Elm Creek Blvd N., Suite 100
Maple Grove, MN 55369
Additional Maple Grove Information
6060 Clearwater Dr., Suite 150
Minnetonka, MN 55343
Additional Minnetonka Information
2601 39th Ave NE., Suite 1
St. Anthony, MN 55421
Additional St. Anthony Information
250 Central Ave N., Suites 105 & 107, Optical Suite 106
Wayzata, MN 55391
Additional Wayzata Information
7125 Tamarack Rd, Suite 150,
Woodbury, MN 55125
Additional Woodbury Information
11091 Ulysses St NE., Suite 400
Blaine, MN 55434
Additional Blaine Surgery Center Information
9801 Dupont Ave S., Suite 100
Bloomington, MN 55431
Additional Bloomington Surgery Center Information
10709 Wayzata Blvd., Suites 100 & 120
Minnetonka, MN 55305
Additional Minnetonka Surgery Center Information