The retina is a thin sheet of nerve tissue in the back of the eye where light rays are focused and transmitted to the brain. The vitreous is a gel-like substance that fills the eye and is connected to the retina, optic nerve and many blood vessels. Problems with the retina and vitreous -- including retinal tear and detachment, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, infection and trauma -- can lead to vision loss and blindness. Early detection and treatment are critical in correcting problems before vision is lost or preventing further deterioration from occurring.
Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment
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. In its advanced stages, the disease can cause blurred or cloudy vision, floaters and blind spots – and, eventually, blindness. This damage is irreversible.
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.
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.
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Macular Degeneration Treatment
The macula is a part of the retina in the back of the eye that ensures that our central vision is clear and sharp. Macular degeneration causes a progressive loss of vision. It is the number-one cause of blindness in the U.S.
There are two kinds of macular degeneration: "wet" and “dry.” The “wet” form can be treated in its early stages. Regular eye exams are highly recommended to detect macular degeneration early and prevent permanent vision loss.
Symptoms often associated with macular degeneration include:
- A gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly
- A gradual loss of color vision
- Distorted vision
- A dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision
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Retinal Tear and Retinal Detachment Treatment
The vitreous is a clear liquid that fills our eyes and gives them shape. When we are young, the vitreous has a thick, gelatinous consistency and is firmly attached to the retina. As we age, the vitreous thins and separates from the retina. Although this usually results in nothing more than a few harmless floaters, tension from the detached vitreous can sometimes tear the retina.
If liquid seeps through the tear and collects behind the retina or between its nerve layers, the retinal tear can become a retinal detachment. Retinal detachment can cause significant, permanent vision loss and requires immediate medical treatment.
There are three kinds of retinal detachment. The most common form, described above, occurs when fluid leaks into the retina; people who are nearsighted or who have had an injury or eye surgery are most susceptible. Less frequently, friction between the retina and vitreous or scar tissue pulls the retina loose, something that occurs most often in patients with diabetes. Third, disease-related swelling or bleeding under the retina can push it away from the eye wall.
Signs of retinal tear or detachment include flashes of light, a group or web of floaters, wavy or watery vision, a sense that there is a veil or curtain obstructing vision, or a sudden drop in vision quality. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately. Early treatment is essential to preserve your vision.
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