You go to your optometrist for regular eye exams or if you need a prescription for glasses or contacts lenses. However, your optometrist can also detect the early signs that you may have a problem with your retina, and will manage your condition until it’s necessary for you to see a retina specialist.
What Does a Retina Specialist Do?
Retina specialists are medical doctors who have received further training in eye diseases to become ophthalmologists. These doctors have earned an additional degree focused on diagnosing and treating retinal conditions. The treatments that retina specialists perform include laser surgeries and intraocular injections as well as hospital-based surgeries, such as vitrectomy.
What is the retina?
The retina is a layer of nerve cells at the back of your eye. These cells detect the light entering the eye and send signals via nerves to the brain so you can see images clearly.
What Conditions Does A Retina Specialist Treat?
A retina specialist treats a wide range of retinal problems. These are the most common:
Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Age-related macular degeneration is one of the main causes of blindness in people over the age of 60. This disease damages the macula, the part of the retina that’s responsible for your central, detailed vision.
The retina specialist will choose a treatment based on the type of AMD: Dry AMD, the more common form of macular degeneration or Wet AMD, the much rarer but more severe form.
Dry AMD is currently best treated with a specific formulation of vitamins and supplements based on the AREDS studies, and clinical trials are underway to check the safety and efficacy of several other proposed treatments.
Wet AMD can be treated with:
- Medications and anti-VEGF injections
- Laser therapy
Diabetic retinopathy is a sight-threatening condition caused by high blood sugar levels in diabetics. At early stages of the disease, a retina specialist will provide retina [exams] and suggest ways to slow its progression.
If the condition worsens, blood vessels in the eye may swell and lead to aneurysms or diabetic macular edema. Your retina specialist will recommend procedures to stop extra blood vessels from growing or leaking, or surgery to remove part of the vitreous humor. Diabetic retinopathy treatments include:
- Prescription medications
- Anti-VEGF injections
- Laser surgery
Retinal Tearing or Detachment
Eye inflammation or injury can cause the vitreous humor to tear slightly or detach completely from the retina. If left untreated, retinal detachment can lead to vision loss and even blindness. A retina specialist treats this condition with laser surgery, cryotherapy (freezing therapy) or surgical repair.
With aging or as the result of an injury, the macula may pull away from the retina and leave a hole, or the macula may pucker or wrinkle. To prevent further damage and vision loss, a retina specialist will perform surgery to correct the problem.
Ocular trauma or Eye Injury
If an object penetrates your eye, you’ll likely need the immediate care of a retina specialist to preserve your vision. With surgery, the retina specialist can often repair your eye and prevent vision loss.
Has your optometrist or ophthalmologist recommended that you visit a retina specialist? Don’t delay. Schedule an appointment right away for efficient screening, diagnosis and treatment of your retinal condition. The sooner you visit a retina specialist, the greater the chances of slowing the condition’s progression and maintaining your vision.
Schedule an appointment at in Thompson Optics Our practice serves patients from Edmonton, St. Albert, Spruce Grove, and Leduc, Alberta and surrounding communities. today!
Q: How does a retina specialist diagnose macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy?
- A: Your retina specialist may give you any of the following tests:
- Comprehensive [eye exam]
- Visual acuity test
- Amsler grid
- Optical coherence tomography (OCT)
- Fluorescein angiography
Q: What are Fluorescein angiography and OCT?
- A: Your retina specialist will give you a dilated [eye exam] so they can see your retina clearly. After applying eye drops, they may do the following tests:
- Fluorescein angiography – after the retina specialist injects dye into your arm, they’ll take pictures of blood vessels in your eye to detect ruptures or leaks.
- Optical coherence tomography (OCT) – cross-sectional photographs of the eye show retinal thickness and possible blood vessel leakages.