Newark Retinal Treatments and Laser Eye Surgery
Retinal diseases cover a broad range of disorders affecting a specific part of the retina. At Eye Care of Delaware, we offer the best retinal treatments at our Newark cataract and laser treatment center. Retina treatment specialist Dr. Park uses proven treatments and advanced equipment to prevent long-term visual impairment. And with our patients traveling from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, we are recognized as a leading provider of retinal care.
The Importance of a Healthy Retina for Long-Term Vision
A healthy retina is essential for good vision. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes or a family history of eye diseases, you should be seeing an eye doctor regularly, as many retina problems can be detected by your eye doctor well before you notice any significant symptoms. Routine eye exams enable your family eye doctor to detect issues early, so treatment can begin quickly.
At Eye Care of Delaware, Dr. Park specializes in retinal and vitreous medicine and surgery. Our retinal services include examination and treatment for peripheral retinal disease, including retinal holes and retinal detachments, as well as central retinal disease such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Laser treatments and intraocular injections for the treatment of certain types of macular degeneration are regularly performed.
What is the Retina?
The retina is the thin layer of nerve cells lining the back of the eye. It is responsible for relaying images to your brain. Light rays are focused onto the retina through the cornea and lens. The retina converts the light rays into impulses that travel through the optic nerve to the brain – and there they are interpreted as the images we see. The retina is very delicate and complex, and retina conditions and diseases exist that can significantly deteriorate your vision and can even lead to blindness.
Retina Conditions That Impact Vision
- Retinal tear and detachment
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Macular pucker (epi-retinal membrane)
Typical Symptoms of Retinal Problems
A number of symptoms may indicate a problem with your retina. You’ll want to watch for these signs and symptoms.
- Floating specks or cobwebs in your vision (floaters)
- Flashes of light
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
- Vision loss
- Straight lines looking wavy, crooked or broken
- Trouble seeing details
- Gray, cloudy, or a blank area in central vision
- Shadow or curtain in peripheral or central vision
If you notice any of the above symptoms, you should visit your eye doctor for a comprehensive retinal exam, especially if you’re over 45 years old, have had an injury to your eyes or head, or if you are moderately to highly nearsighted.
Common Retina Diseases and Conditions
Retinal diseases affect the light-sensitive tissue located in the back of the eye. The following conditions are the most common examples of retinal disorders and will range in severity.
Floaters look like small specks, dots, circles, lines or cobwebs in your field of vision. Floaters are small clumps of protein inside the gel-like substance that fills your eye (called the vitreous fluid). As we grow older, this vitreous gel starts to shrink, forming clumps or strands inside the eye. The process of the vitreous fluid pulling away enough to separate from the back wall of the eye is called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD).
Floaters are usually not serious, will often become less noticeable over time, and are usually simply part of the normal aging process. However, if floaters develop suddenly there may indeed be reason for concern.
Flashes can look like flashing lights or lightning streaks in your field of vision. They happen when the vitreous fluid pulls on the retina – such as during or shortly after PVD. Light flashes can also originate from the visual centers of the brain (this may occur during a migraine headache).
Sometimes floaters and flashes can indicate more serious eye conditions such as a torn or detached retina. This is when the retina pulls away from the back of your eye, and it could lead to vision loss. As there is no way for a person to determine whether their floaters or flashes are serious or harmless, a visit to your eye care doctor is required.
The retina is the thin layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye, and is often compared to the film in a camera. A retinal detachment occurs when the retina separates from the wall of the eye. The retina cannot work this way, so it can lead to sudden loss of peripheral vision – and eventually, loss of central vision.
A detached retina is very serious and is considered an emergency. The rate of progression of a retinal detachment can vary from days to weeks, depending on many factors such as patient age, and the size and number of retinal tears. If left untreated, retinal detachment can lead to permanent vision loss.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration is a degenerative eye disease that’s a leading cause of vision loss among people aged 50 and older. It causes damage to the macula, a small area in the center of the retina. The macula is responsible for the detailed central vision that allows people to read, drive and recognize faces. If the macula starts to break down, areas in the center of the visual field begin to look distorted or blurry. It is possible that only one eye will be affected, and since the other eye sees well, any visual changes may not be noticeable. There are two types of macular degeneration, “dry” AMD and “wet” AMD.
Dry macular degeneration is the more common type and is considered to be an early stage of the disease. About 85 percent of all people with AMD suffer from the dry form, and only about 10% of them will progress to the more advanced and damaging wet macular degeneration.
Wet macular degeneration is less common but more threatening. The word “wet” implies leakage and bleeding. It is the main cause of central vision loss due to AMD. In wet macular degeneration, abnormal blood vessels develop beneath the retina and start to leak blood and fluid. If left untreated, this leakage eventually leads to the destruction of the delicate tissue of the macula, causing permanent damage and severe central vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that occurs when high blood sugar levels cause damage to the blood vessels that supply nourishment to the retina. These weak vessels can leak, swell or develop thin branches, causing a loss of vision. Changes to your vision may not be noticeable at first.
But in its advanced stages, the disease can cause blurry vision, floaters and blind spots – and, eventually, blindness. This damage is irreversible. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye complication, and a leading cause of blindness in American adults.
Diabetic retinopathy can develop in anyone who has been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It is critical for people with diabetes to have a complete eye exam at least annually. If diabetic retinopathy is detected early, you and your eye doctor can begin to control the progression and preserve good vision.
Macular pucker (also called epi-retinal membrane or cellophane maculopathy) occurs when wrinkles or creases form on the surface of the center of the retina (macula).
Sometimes a macular pucker is the result of an injury or a medical condition (such as diabetes) that affects the eye. Sometimes they form after eye surgery, including cataract surgery. However, with most cases of macular pucker, the cause is unknown.
What to Expect at Your Retinal Evaluation
A retinal examination is more thorough than routine eye exams. Dilating drops will be used to widen your pupils, which gives us a better view of your retina. It takes up to 10 minutes for the drops to take full effect, and your eyes will remain dilated for several hours. During a retinal exam, some patients will need a test called a fluorescein angiogram.
During this test, a yellow dye is injected into a vein in your arm. A rapid sequence of photographs of the retina are then captured. The dye shows the blood vessels in the retina in clear detail, identifying any abnormal or damaged blood vessels. Dr. Park will review the results of this and other tests to tailor your treatment plan accordingly.
At Eye Care of Delaware, we use state-of-the-art diagnostic tools, lasers and other equipment to enhance diagnosis and treatment, and use the latest advances and methods to provide each patient with a customized treatment plan.
Common Questions About Retinal Treatments
There are many types of retinal disorders, each requiring a different approach. Some common treatment options include laser eye surgery, an injection of targeted medication and the shrinking of abnormal blood vessels. Treatments are tailored to the requirements of each patient.
Damage to the retina may result from aging, eye injuries, problems with the surface layer of the retina, a retinal tear and inflammation. In some cases, the problems are minor and will not cause significant issues for a patient. However, early detection remains the best way to prevent ongoing deterioration and serious vision impairment.
Some of the best ways to protect the health of your retina include healthy eating, exercising, stopping smoking, avoiding bright sunlight – and having routine eye examinations. A combination of a healthy lifestyle and precautions around bright light can reduce the risks of retina issues.