Top 5 Common Retina Diseases: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options
Eye floaters, flashes of light, blurred vision, blind spots in central vision, distortions in vision such as straight lines that appear wavy, halos around lights, a dark curtain-like covering over the field of vision, shadows in peripheral vision, or sudden loss of vision are critical warnings of retinal disease. Damage to the retina can be the result of underlying health problems related to the eyes or even other parts of the body. The top 5 common retina diseases are macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment, retinal vein occlusion and retinitis pigmentosa. Below we will outline their causes, symptoms and treatment options.
Increased age, genetics, injury to the eye, chronic stress, steroid medication, heart disease and circulatory issues are typical causes for retinal conditions and diseases. If left untreated, retinal diseases may result in vision loss or blindness. Not all retinal diseases can be cured or reversed but with early intervention vision can be preserved and symptoms can be managed. Make sure to include retinal imaging as part of your annual comprehensive eye exam at Associated Retina Consultants so that our doctors can get a wider view of the health of your eyes.
- Macular degeneration is an age-related eye disease that blurs central vision. Due to age, damage occurs to the macula, the part of the retina responsible for sharp, straight-ahead vision. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss among older adults. Nutritional supplements, anti-angiogenic drugs, photodynamic therapy, laser therapy and low vision aids can help manage AMD since there is no current cure.
- Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes brought on by uncontrolled high blood sugar. It damages the blood vessels in the retina. Mild cases can be treated with better diabetes management focused on blood sugar and blood pressure or anti-VEGF medicine, while advanced cases can benefit from laser therapy or vitrectomy, a surgery to remove the vitreous gel in the eye as well as any blood that has leaked from vessels into the back of the eye.
- Retinal detachment is when the retina pulls away from its proper position at the back of the eye. Common signs of retinal detachment are flashes of light and a dark, curtain-like shadow over vision. A detached retina is a medical emergency requiring prompt attention to save eyesight. While laser treatment may be a viable option, surgery may be likely. It could be in the form of a vitrectomy, scleral buckle surgery, or pneumatic retinopexy, these are all options that serve in various forms to seal the torn retina and allow it to heal.
- Retinal vein occlusion is a blockage in a small blood vessel that carries blood away from the retina usually due to a blood clot or compression of the retinal vein where it meets the retinal artery that has hardened. If left untreated, the risk of vision loss increases. Many factors determine prognosis including the location of the blockage and any subsequent complications. Treatment options include anti-VEGF injections, steroid injections, panretinal photocoagulation, medication or vitrectomy.
- Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic, yet rare, group of eye diseases that causes cells in the retina to break down slowly over time. Symptoms appear in childhood and include decreased low light or night vision. There is no cure, but gene therapy and medications are advised to help manage vision quality.
For more in-depth information about retinal disease and prevention measures you can take for the health of your retina, visit WEBSITE. For an appointment, call 602-242-4928.