Retinal Disease

What is Retinal Disease?

The retina is full of light sensitive nerve cells that send information to your brain and help you see.

Retinal diseases affect your retina, the thin layer of tissue on the inside back wall of your eye. Your retina sends visual information to your brain through your optic nerve. Most retinal degenerations and diseases can be diagnosed by a dilated eye examination. An optometrist can determine whether a retinal condition or other eye disorder

What Causes Retina Disease?

Retina disease can be genetic or related to aging, diabetes, trauma or other chronic conditions.

  • As we get older, the clear fluid inside our eye ball often changes shape and pulls away from the retina. This fluid, called Vitreous Gel, can cause a retinal tear.

  • Vitreous fluid decreases in the eye as part of the aging process, and can also decrease due to inflammation or nearsightedness.

What are the symptoms?

Retinal diseases vary widely, and can affect any part of your retina, the thin layer of tissue on the inside back wall of your eye.

Symptoms include:

  • Loss of vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Peripheral challenges
  • Floating specks
  • Cobwebs

What are the different types of retina disease?

Retina disease affects the thin layer of tissue inside the back wall of your eye, and disrupts the way you see.

  • Flashers and Floaters

    When you have a floater, you’ll see specks, circles or lines obstructing your vision. While they seem to be in front of your eye, they are floating inside. These cell clusters float inside your eye and can affect your quality of vision. They often fade or disappear on their own, and rarely require surgery. Those who are at higher risk to develop flashes and floaters include those who are nearsighted or who have had cataract surgery. Some types of light flashes are common in older patients and migraine sufferers and rarely require surgery. A new onset of flashes or floaters should always be evaluated immediately, as they also can be associated with serious retinal problems that may require immediate treatment.

  • Retinal Detachment

    Sometimes fluid passes through a retinal tear, and causes the retina to lift away from the underlying tissue. When this happens, the retina can’t function properly and vision can often become blurry. It needs to be treated immediately or can lead to substantial vision loss or blindness.



Those who are at high risk include diabetics, older patients, people who have had previous cataract surgery, those who have experienced eye trauma or may have a family history of retinal disease. Patients should maintain routine eye exams and consult with their Primary Care Provider if they are at high risk for developing diabetes.


Retinal disease can be diagnosed during a routine eye exam, and confirmed through a variety of in patient tests at any of our centers.

A retinal examination uses bright light and lenses to examine the retina in both eyes and check for tears or detachments. An ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves and is especially useful if the back of the eye cannot be seen directly. It can be used to determine if bleeding has occurred in the eye. The Amsler grid tests the clarity of your central vision to understand the extent of retinal damage. An Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) diagnoses epiretinal membranes, macular holes and macular swelling (edema). It shows any deviation from a normal macula. Alternatively, a fluorescein angiography uses a dye, light, and a specialized camera to evaluate blood flow in the back of the eye and an Indocyanine green angiography uses a dye and infrared light to highlight blood vessels behind the retina in the choroid tissue.

Treatment Options

There are many out-patient procedure options for treating retinal disease or a detached retina that can be addressed in many of our locations. They include the following:

  • Scleral Buckle

    A retinal surgeon stiches a silicone material to the outside of the eye when there’s a retinal detachment, which buckles the sclera and causes a decrease in the circumference of the eye and re-attaches the retina.

  • Sutureless pars plana vitrectomy (PPV)

    A surgeon removes or replaces vitreous gel from the eye through the pars plana. This procedure can be performed in conjunction with other surgeries.

  • Repair of Complex Retinal Detachments (PVR)

    A surgeon will perform pars plana vitrectomy (PPV) or scleral buckling to treat a complex retinal detachment. An injection of gas may also be necessary, along with a laser to seal the retinal tears, and the vitreous cavity may then be filled with a medical gas or silicone oil to help with healing.

  • Macular Hole Repair

    A surgeon will perform a vitrectomy as treatment for macular hole repair. The vitreous gel is removed, and replaced with a mix of air and gas. This mixture puts pressure on the edges of the macular hole and helps it heal. Sometimes, the patient can develop a cataract post procedure, which can be treated during an additional surgery.

  • Epiretinal Membrane Surgery

    An ERM occurs when fibro cellular membranes form on the inner surface of the retina. They can usually be monitored during routine eye exams but can sometimes result in painless loss of vision and visual distortion. If the vision becomes distorted enough, the membrane can be removed from the back of the eye by a skilled retinal surgeon. (delete vitreous gel is removed, and replaced with a mix air and gas. This mixture puts pressure on the edges of the macular hole and helps it heal). Sometimes, the patient can develop a cataract post procedure, which can be treated during an additional surgery

  • Endophthalmites

    Endophthalmitis is an infection inside the eye that may have severe visual complications. Treatment for endophthalmitis must be performed as soon as possible. If you are experiencing severe vison loss, our surgeons will perform a vitrectomy to remove any infectious debris from your eye and inject antibiotics or antifungal agents directly inside your eye.

  • Treatment of tear holes

    Small retinal holes or tears may form within the retina, and may not be associated with any symptoms; however, symptoms such as flashing lights and floating spots are not uncommon. Treatment of these is often necessary to prevent larger issues like retinal detachment from developing. These are often treated in the office with either laser or cryo (freezing) procedures.

  • Medications and Intravitreal treatments

    A surgeon can inject intravitreal anti-VEGF drugs and steroids to reduce fluid leakage and bleeding for conditions such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Injectable antibiotic, anti-fungal and antiviral drugs are also used to treat patients with infections in the eye such as endophthalmitis and retinitis.

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