The retina is the part of the eye that translates what you see into information your brain can understand. When light enters the eye, the cornea and lens focus the image onto the retina, which lies at the back of the eye. Like film in a camera, the retina receives the projected image. This visual information is sent from the retina to the brain via the optic nerve. When there is a retina disease, this information may not be able to be processed in the same way as prior to the disease.
Chander N. Samy, M.D., F.A.C.S. and Robert J. Kraut, M.D., are Ocala Eye’s retina specialists. They provide treatment and continued care for retina-related issues such as:
- Macular Degeneration
- Diabetic Retinopathy
- Floaters and Flashes
- Macular Holes
The retina has many distinct areas that help process visual information. Located in the central area of the retina, the macula is considered to be the visual “sweet spot.” The macula allows you to focus on someone’s face, read a magazine article, or study a picture. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), in its wet form, involves the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina. Visual changes include:
- Words on a page look blurred
- Dark or empty area in the center of vision
- Straight lines look distorted
Macular Degeneration Treatment
Dr. Samy and Dr. Kraut will carefully monitor for the progression of macular degeneration. The type of treatment for wet macular degeneration depends on the location, size and other characteristics of the abnormal blood vessels.
Possible therapies include:
- Vitamin therapy (for dry macular degeneration) – Antioxidants and zinc may reduce the risk of progression from dry to wet macular degeneration in many patients.
- Intraocular Injectable Medications – Several injectable medications are currently available and may be discussed as part of your treatment. These medications are designed to stop the actual growth of the abnormal blood vessels. Over the next few years, even more effective versions are expected to be approved by the FDA.
- Laser surgery – Depending on the location of the abnormal blood vessels, a thermal laser may be the treatment of choice.
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT) – Visudyne®, a light-sensitive medication, is injected into blood vessels in the patient’s arm and travels to the abnormal blood vessels in the macula. A “cold” laser is used to activate the Visudyne® in the eyes and stop or minimize the progression of the abnormal vessels. Multiple treatments are often necessary to complete treatment.
If you have diabetes, your body struggles to maintain proper levels of blood glucose. High blood glucose levels can damage blood vessels in the retina and lead to diabetic retinopathy, which can include complications such as micro-aneurysms, abnormal vessel formation, vitreous hemorrhage, and optic nerve damage.
Early detection of diabetic retinopathy is the best protection against loss of vision. By maintaining normal blood glucose levels and controlling your diabetes, the risk of developing a vision problem is minimized.
Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment
The best long term treatment is to successfully control all of the risk factors that are associated with diabetes including:
- Elevated blood glucose
Diabetic retinopathy progression can be minimized if it is diagnosed early in the disease process. Dr. Samy and Dr. Kraut have the latest treatment options and technology at their disposal should surgical intervention be required.
Laser surgery – Depending on the condition of the eye, a variety of laser treatments can be used to shrink abnormal blood vessels and reduce fluid leakage inside the eye. While the goal of laser surgery is preventing further loss of vision, it does not cure diabetic retinopathy; and depending on the severity of diabetes, additional vision loss is possible.
Vitrectomy – With advanced cases, vitreous hemorrhage may occur. In this situation, the growth of abnormal blood vessels causes severe bleeding in the back portion of the eye. To treat this condition, microsurgery may be performed to remove the abnormal vitreous membranes and the blood in the eye.
Floaters and Flashes
When people reach middle age, the vitreous gel inside the eye may begin to clump together making small particles that appear to float across the field of vision. These”floaters” are more apparent when staring at light colored backgrounds such as a blue sky or white wall. Posterior vitreous detachment can cause a more rapid onset of floaters and is more common in people who have had a history of:
- Cataract surgery
- YAG laser surgery
- Inflammation inside the eye
Flashes appear as flashing lights or lightning streaks as vitreous gel pulls on the retina. Flashes are more common as people age, but the increase in frequency of flashes should prompt you to see your Ocala Eye ophthalmologist. A sudden increase in flashes and/or floaters could indicate the presence of a retinal tear or retinal detachment. Prompt scheduling of an evaluation is highly recommended in these situations.
During the aging process, changes in the vitreous jelly can also induce a hole in the macula. Since the macula is responsible for producing the sharpest visual images, significant changes in vision can occur such as a dark spot or distortion in the central vision.
Vitrectomy – It is extremely important to have the macular hole repaired using the timeline given to you by your Ocala Eye ophthalmologist. Macular hole surgery involves removal of the vitreous and any membranes surrounding the macular hole. The vitreous cavity is then filled with a temporary gas bubble. In order for the hole to close, proper positioning of the head (face-down position) is required during the post-operative period.
Consult an Ophthalmologist
Ocala Eye’s fellowship-trained ophthalmologists and medical staff are dedicated to helping your vision last a lifetime, which is why we offer comprehensive eye care for adults of all ages. From annual eye exams to advanced procedures like LASIK and cataract surgery, we can help you see your best at any phase of your life.