Our vision is made possible through the interactive parts of a highly complex visual system. The retina, a light sensitive area in the back of the eye, is part of that system. It gives us the ability to see things in sharp detail. When it is diseased or damaged, vision loss can occur. If untreated, irreversible blindness may occur.
Treating diseases and disorders of the retina and vitreous requires the skill of a highly trained retinal specialist. Years of training prepare a retinal specialist to diagnose and treat retinal and vitreous disorders of the eye. Our Retina Specialist’s’ scope of services includes intravitreal injections for diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, macular edema, and retinal vein occlusion; retinal laser surgery; vitreoretinal surgery; Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT); fluorescein angiography; ultrasonography; and fundus autofluorescence.
Macular Degeneration Explained
Macular degeneration occurs when the macula (central part of the back of the eye) deteriorates. The macula region of the retina is responsible for central vision as well as intricate vision tasks. Over time vision can become distorted, due to the swelling and leakage of tissue around the macula. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness for people in America over 65 years of age.
Symptoms & Detection
Signs of AMD can be detected early in a thorough dilated retinal examination provided by your optometrist even before you notice the vision loss. During a retina examination, the eye doctor may ask the patient to view a grid pattern, called an Amsler grid. A distortion detected in the grid pattern by the patient may be a sign of the disease. Once detected, the doctor may order other special tests like retinal photographs, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) or Fluorescein Angiography (FA) to determine if AMD is the wet or dry form, and the extent of its progression.
The first physical sign of AMD is the development of drusen or yellowish spots that form in the back of the eye, which are thought to be deposits of eye tissue from the macula region. As the tissue dies due to AMD, debris from the dying cells builds up in the retina. Drusen is an early sign of the dry form of AMD, which accounts for about 90 percent of macular degeneration cases. In the dry form of the disease, thinning macula is an observable symptom. Over time, the macula region becomes too thin to function properly
The wet (neovascular) form of AMD occurs when new blood vessels begin to grow around the macula region. These vessels grow due to a biological process called neovascularization. Neovascularization occurs when the body suddenly increases the development of new blood vessels to bring more oxygen and nutrients to damaged tissue. Unfortunately, the new blood vessels in wet AMD are abnormal and cause more damage because they begin to leak blood and fluid. This leakage can cause scarring to the delicate tissues in the macula region that capture and interpret visual images. The leakage can also cause swelling of the macula region, known as macula edema.