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Retinal Conditions and Diseases

The retina is a layer of tissue at the back of the eye that contains millions of light-sensitive cells, called rods and cones,  and other nerve cells. These cells receive visual information and send it to the brain through the optic nerve, which allows you to see.

Your retina can become damaged or diseased as a result of an eye injury, hereditary retinal disorders, or as a complication of another disease, such as diabetes.

Many retinal conditions share common signs and symptoms, which include:

  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Problems with peripheral (side) vision
  • Seeing floating specks or cobwebs
  • Loss of vision

It’s possible to stop or slow the progression of many retinal diseases with treatment. Appropriate treatment can preserve, improve, or restore vision.

It’s vital to have regular eye exams and see a retina specialist if you notice any of the symptoms above. If left untreated, some retinal diseases can cause vision loss or even blindness.

Types of Retinal Conditions and Diseases

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD): Occurs when the center of the retina begins to break down. AMD causes symptoms like blurred vision or a blind spot in the center of your visual field. There are two types of AMD: dry macular degeneration and wet macular degeneration, a leading cause of irreversible vision loss. Dry macular degeneration can progress to the wet form.
  • Retinal detachment: This is when the retina pulls away from its supportive tissue and is considered a medical emergency. Signs and symptoms of retinal detachment include the sudden appearance of floaters, blurred vision, flashes of light in one or both eyes, and reduced peripheral vision.
  • Retinal tear: Occurs when the clear, gel-like substance in the center of the eye, called vitreous, tugs at the retina causing a tear. If fluid passes through the retinal tear, it can cause retinal detachment, a medical emergency.
  • Diabetic retinopathy: A complication of diabetes, which causes blood vessels in the back of the eye to deteriorate and leak fluid into the retina; this leads to swelling of the retina, which can cause blurred or distorted vision.
  • Macular hole: A macular hole is a small break in the macula, the part of the retina that helps you see fine detail. It can cause blurred or distorted central vision. Macular holes can develop due to a detached retina, as a complication of diabetic retinopathy, or another problem.
  • Macular pucker: Scar tissue on the macula, the tissue at the center of the retina that can cause blurred or distorted vision. Macular pucker is usually age related but can also develop as a complication of a detached retina or infection and inflammation of the eye.
  • Retinitis pigmentosa: A genetic disorder that causes retinal degeneration over time, which can lead to vision loss. Symptoms include decreased peripheral vision and trouble seeing at night.
  • Coats’ disease: A rare, nonhereditary eye disorder caused by abnormal development of blood vessels behind the retina. Coats’ disease (also called retinal telangiectasia) can cause full or partial blindness. Cryotherapy to freeze abnormal cells can help slow the progression of the disease.
  • Retinal vascular disease: Any of a number of disorders that affect the blood vessels in the eyes. These include retinal artery and vein occlusions, hypertensive retinopathy, diabetic retinopathy, and others.
  • Posterior Vitreous Detachment – A natural change that occurs during adulthood, when the vitreous gel that fills the eye separates from the retina, the light-sensing nerve layer at the back of the eye.

Treatment for Retinal Conditions

Your retina specialist will work with you to explore all your options, which may include retina surgery. Treatment will depend on your specific condition and may include any of the following:

  • Vitrectomy: Surgery to remove the vitreous, transparent jelly-like tissue, in the eyeball.
  • Photocoagulation treatment: A procedure that uses lasers to destroy or shrink abnormal structures in the retina caused by diabetic retinopathy and other conditions. Focal laser photocoagulation treatment seals leaking blood vessels in a small area. Scatter laser photocoagulation treatment is used to slow growth of abnormal vessels over a larger area.
  • Anti-VEGF therapy: Stops the growth of new blood vessels in the retina using a drug called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). New blood vessel growth can worsen many retinal diseases and conditions. Eylea injections are a type of anti-VEGF therapy.
  • Retina surgery: Includes laser surgery to repair tears in the retina. 
  • Cryotherapy: Freezes abnormal cells in the retina.
  • Photodynamic therapy: Uses a cold laser and special light-activated dye to seal abnormal blood vessels in the retina. Photodynamic therapy is used to treat wet macular degeneration, central serous chorioretinopathy, and other conditions.
  • Jetrea injections: Treatment for vitreomacular adhesion (VMA), a condition that occurs when the vitreous (jelly-like substance in the eyeball) abnormally adheres to the retina.

A retinal exam is recommended once per year for patients living with diabetes. If you have diabetes, it’s important to get eye screenings regularly to check for potential complications like diabetic retinopathy. Left undiagnosed, diabetic retinopathy can lead to vision loss and potentially blindness.  In fact, the disease among adults ages 20-74, accounts for the most frequent cause of new cases of blindness in developed countries.

Diabetic retinal exams are performed in the office and results can be seen immediately when your exam is performed by an Ophthalmologist.   

optomap Retinal Exam

Crystal Run Healthcare now offers the optomap Retinal Exam. The optomap Exam gives your Ophthalmologist a panoramic image of the surface of your retina. The exam is fast, easy, and comfortable, and may even alleviate the need for dilation.

Images taken during your optomap Exam will help your doctor check for conditions including macular degeneration, glaucoma, and retinal detachments, while assessing the overall health of your eye. It can also help detect diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, some cancers, and auto-immune disorders. The image provides a permanent record for annual review.    

RetinaVue® - A Telemedicine Approach to Diabetic Retinopathy Screenings

Did you know at Crystal Run you can get screened for diabetic retinopathy without having your eyes dilated? RetinaVue® uses non-invasive imaging techniques to capture pictures of the retina, and rule out negative disease. Now, you can get screened for retinal diseases without unnecessary office visits. To determine if RetinaVue® may be right for you, speak with your Crystal Run Physician at your next appointment.

Expert Retina Doctors at Crystal Run Healthcare

The fellowship-trained Ophthalmologists and surgeons at Crystal Run Healthcare dedicate their lives to helping patients with retina conditions and diseases. We’ll work closely with you to develop a comprehensive treatment plan using the most advanced diagnostic and surgical equipment in our state-of-the-art facilities.

Schedule an appointment with one of our retina specialists today.


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