The retina has many light-sensitive photoreceptor cells and consists of the inner layer of your eye. In the retina, the photoreceptor cells detect light and then convert the light to electrical signals. These signals go to your brain through the optic nerve, allowing you to see. There are different retina issues that can affect this area and these disorders usually mean you will have visual problems.
The eye has many different structures that help with your vision, but one of the important ones is the retina. Different retinal disorders are any conditions that can affect the retina. Some conditions are mild and will only slightly affect your vision while others can lead to total blindness. It can be possible to prevent many retinal disorders if your eye doctor can diagnose the condition early on and give you appropriate treatment. This is why it’s so important to know the different common symptoms of retina issues.
Common Symptoms for Retinal Issues
Even though there are many different retinal issues, they share some common symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Changes in vision.
- Loss of vision in certain areas or blurry vision.
- Suddenly seeing floaters.
- Seeing flashes of light.
- Trouble seeing at night.
- A hard time adjusting to light changes.
- Changes with color perception.
- Reduced peripheral or central vision.
- Suddenly losing vision.
Early effects of retinal damage may not mean any noticeable changes in your vision. If the retina issue or damage is near the macular then you may notice different visual effects, such as distortion of images, straight lines appearing wavy, blurry spots in your vision, visions with images that keep appearing and disappearing, or general poor vision.
When to See an Eye Doctor for Retina Symptoms
It’s important to get regular eye check-ups in order to catch any retinal disorders early. If you have an underlying condition, such as diabetes, or are at risk for certain eye conditions then you should make sure to get regular eye check-ups. Some symptoms mean you should immediately contact your eye doctor. These symptoms include:
- Double vision.
- Sudden blurry vision.
- Abrupt visual disturbances, such as flashes or floaters.
- Eye pain that is persistent.
- An eye infection.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Frequently squinting.
- Eye injury or eye trauma.
Common Retina Issues
Symptoms can come from these retina issues:
Retinal Tear: A tear in the retina happens when there is a hole or tear in the area. Tears usually happen in the vitreous. This is the jelly-like substance in your eye. This substance attaches to the retina and if it gets pulled hard enough then it can tear. Tears can happen because of trauma or the aging process. A retinal tear can cause blurry vision, flashes of light, or suddenly seeing floaters. Treatment is necessary for a retinal tear because tears can lead to detachment. A retinal detachment is a much more serious condition that will affect your vision.
Retinal Detachment: You can experience retinal detachment when there is a buildup of fluid that enters through a tear in the retina. The fluid buildup causes the retina to detach from the eye layer that provides your eye with nutrients and oxygen. A retinal detachment is considered a medical emergency and can lead to permanent vision loss if you don’t get treatment as soon as possible.
Retinopathy: Retinopathy occurs when there are damages to the blood vessels at the back of your eye. The damage causes fluid to leak. When the fluid accumulates it can cause issues to the retina and mean changes in vision. There are different conditions that can cause this, including cancer, hypertension, and diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication that happens with diabetes and is considered one of the leading causes of adult blindness.
Epiretinal Membranes (ERMs): These membranes form on the inner surface of the retina and consist of scar tissue from an injury or medical condition. EMRs don’t typically cause symptoms unless they are affecting the center of the retina or the macula. These areas are important for seeing visual features and details. If EMRs are going to cause symptoms then you may notice distortion of central vision.
Macula Holes: A macula hole is similar to a retina tear and means there is a small break in the macula. These occur when there is pulling between the retina and vitreous. These holes are common with aging but can also happen due to injuries.
Macular Degeneration: This condition is common in older adults so it can also be called age-related macular degeneration. This happens when the macula is deteriorated and causes distorted central vision. This can worsen over time and cause permanent vision loss. This is one of the most common retina issues in the United States.
Retinitis: Retinitis is inflammation of the retina and occurs due to bacteria or viruses. Syphilis, Dengue fever, and Lyme disease, along with autoimmune conditions such as lupus, can cause retinitis. Retinitis pigmentosa is a degenerative genetic condition that causes a breakdown of the retina cells. This is a rare condition but it can lead to loss of vision.
Retinoblastoma: Retinoblastoma, or cancer of the retina, is the most common eye cancer in young children and infants. One main symptom is a lack of red reflex in the pupil when a photo is taken of the child.
Macular Edema: This is a condition that happens because of fluid building up in the macula and then causing it to swell. There are many different conditions that can cause macula edema, including diabetes and age-related macular degeneration.
Retinal Vein Occlusion: This condition, also called eye stroke, is a disorder of the blood vessels where branches of the retinal vein cause blood and fluid to spill onto the retina. The blockage cuts off circulation in the eye, which causes nerve cells to die, and this can lead to vision loss.
Risk Factors and Causes of Retinal Disorders
There are different factors that contribute to retina issues. Some of these factors include conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, getting older, and prior eye surgery. Chronic stress, drug misuse, heart disease, or other circulatory issues can also increase your risk for retina problems. If you have a family history of any retinal disorders, it can also increase your risk of developing one. Even if you don’t have any risk factors, it’s important to protect your overall health and take care of your eyes. This may include making some lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, getting enough exercise, and eating a healthy diet. You may also want to wear protective eyewear or sunglasses in order to prevent any eye injury or trauma that can lead to a retina issue.
Diagnosis of Retina Issues
In order to diagnose retina disorders, an ophthalmologist will typically ask about your medical history. This can help them look for any factors that could affect your vision, such as an underlying condition. You will then have a comprehensive eye exam with focus on the retina. You may also have your pupils dilated in order to see the inner eye. You will also have images taken of the retina.
Treatment of Retinal Disorders
The goal of any treatment is to restore and preserve vision or prevent any slowdown of damage to the retina. The treatment will depend on the extent and type of the condition. Different treatment options can include vitamins and medications, surgery, injections, or laser treatments. Treatment can sometimes be complex and you may require urgent treatment in order to prevent any future damage and keep your vision. Vision loss from retinal disorders can affect your ability to do things such as drive, read, or recognize faces, so it’s important to know your options for treatment. Your eye specialist will discuss the best treatment for your specific condition.
If you notice any changes to your vision, you need to contact an eye doctor. The specialists at Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute are dedicated to bringing premier eye care to the west coast of Florida and specialize in retinal care. If you are at risk for developing a retinal disorder, regular eye appointments are encouraged in order to catch any issues early so you can get treatment before you have permanent vision loss. Contact one of our eye doctors today to make an appointment.