Retina / Vitreous
We offer diagnosis and treatment for different retinal and vitreal diseases. Retinal diseases such as Retinal Tears and Detachments, Dry and Wet Macular Degeneration, Retinal Vein Occlusion, PVD (Partial Vitreal Detachments), Retinal Hemorrhage, Choroidal Nevi (“freckles” in the retina) are some of the diseases that afflict the retina. We offer laser treatment as well as injections for Wet Macular Degeneration.
The retina is the back part of the eye responsible for providing vision. A healthy retina is essential in giving you the full visual world. When you look at an object, the image of that object is focused on to the retina, and then the visual information is passed along to the brain through the optic nerve. The macula is the central portion of the retina, responsible for the central vision. Some patients confuse the term “macula” with age-related macular degeneration, which is a common aging condition. The macula is simply the location in the retina that provides the sharp, clear central vision, such as the vision used for reading, working on the computer, seeing faces, and seeing to drive. Many conditions can affect the macula. It is therefore important to keep the macula as healthy as possible.
The vitreous is the gelatinous-like substance that makes up approximately two-thirds of the eye’s volume. The vitreous is located in between the lens, in the front of the eye, and the retina, in the back of the eye. In a normal, healthy vitreous, there are no blood vessels, yet diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, can lead to the development of new blood vessels which grow into the vitreous gel. These blood vessels are often fragile and susceptible to leaking blood and fluids. Due to the size and consistency of the vitreous it is prone to diseases that cause the vitreous to:
- Fill with blood
- Prevent light from reaching the retina
These diseases may lead to blurred vision, tears or other serious conditions.
Flashes And Floaters
Flashes and floaters of the eye are usually the result of age-related changes to the vitreous, which is the thick gel firmly attached to the retina from birth. During the aging process, however, the vitreous becomes thinner and more watery, and at some point pulls away from the retina. This is known as a posterior vitreous separation or detachment (PVD). During PVD, tissue debris that was once secure in the firm vitreous gel loosens and moves around, casting shadows on the retina.
When this occurs, patients experience visual disturbances in the form of flashes of light, or floaters (specks or strands across the field of vision). These symptoms are not typically a reason for undue concern, but should, nonetheless, be evaluated by an ophthalmologist.
Causes Of Flashes And Floaters
Flashes occur as a result of pressure on the retina, the bundle of nerves in the back of the eye where images are detected and transmitted to the brain. Such pressure causes patients to see either flashing lights or lightning streaks. Floaters occur when collagen fibers move across the vitreous and into the field of vision, causing patients to see specks, strands, webs or other shapes as the fibers cast shadows on the retina. Flashes and floaters are most visible when looking at a plain, light background.
Beyond simple aging, floaters or flashes appear most often in eyes that are injured, inflamed or nearsighted, and can be a result of the following:
- Cataract or YAG laser surgery
- Nearsighted vision
- Eye infections
- A blow to the head
- Injury to the eye
- Spasm of small blood vessels
The spasm (sudden constriction) of small blood vessels in the brain is also associated with migraine headaches.
Diagnosing Flashes And Floaters
Most people who develop PVD do not suffer further complications. For a small percentage of people, however, PVD is caused by retinal tears. A retinal tear is quite dangerous because it can lead to retinal detachment, which can seriously threaten vision. A sudden onset of symptoms, or momentary blindness in one section of the field of vision, is cause for concern. Patients who experience either should seek immediate medical attention.
Because symptoms may be the same regardless of the cause of the problem, it is important that anyone experiencing unfamiliar disturbances in vision have an examination in which the pupils are dilated; this is the only way in which a retinal tear can be accurately diagnosed. This is one of the reasons that it is crucial for patients to undergo thorough eye examinations on a regular basis.
For patients initially diagnosed as having uncomplicated PVD, a small percentage will go on to have retinal tears within 6 weeks, so it is important that they follow up with their doctors. For patients with underlying causative conditions, such as illness or injury, other treatments may be necessary.
Treatment Of Flashes And Floaters
Although flashes and floaters are usually harmless and do not need treatment aside from regular monitoring, patients bothered by disturbances in their vision, or those experiencing significant visual interference, require medical intervention.
In the case of a retinal detachment, emergency treatment is necessary to prevent serious complications. With treatment, most patients, even those with retinal tears, are able to maintain healthy vision.
Vitamins For Healthy Eyes
Eye vitamins can help maintain eye health and protect our eyes against several different diseases, including those that most frequently affect aging eyes, including macular degeneration.
Experts disagree on which nutrients can prevent eye disease or reduce vision loss. Studies have been conducted to help us learn more about the relationship between vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and eye health. The general consensus is that the same things that are good for your body are good for your eyes: a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, drinking at least six glasses of water a day, regular exercise, and avoidance of cigarette smoke.
Much of the research that has already been conducted points to the benefits of vitamins and antioxidants, specifically beta carotene, vitamins D, E, A and C, zinc, selenium, copper, omega-3 fatty acids, manganese and lutein. The National Eye Institute’s Age-Related Eye Disease Study found that about one-fifth of patients with intermediate and advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) were able to reduce their risk of vision loss after taking high levels of zinc and antioxidants. The study did not find a correlation between these nutrients and the development of cataracts.
Patients taking the anticoagulant medication such as warfarin or Coumadin should consult their doctors before increasing the amount of leafy greens they eat.