The retina is the light-sensitive tissue lining the inside surface of the eye. It can be likened to a screen onto which the light is projected to form images. The light stimulates the optic nerves via a complex system of chemical processes and electrical impulses that are then sent to the brain where the information is interpreted.
Diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, macular disorders such as ARMD (age-associated macular degeneration), are the main causes of blindness in the world. This is because they directly affect this nerve tissue covering the inner surface of the eye, which connects to the brain through the optic nerve.
|Normally a patient with macular disease in one eye can remain unaware of a visual problem that affects both eyes, where straight lines begin to be seen as curved or wavy, with blurred vision or central blindness (‘scotoma’).
|There are several risk factors. Are you elderly? Do you have raised susceptibility due to family history, pale-coloured eyes, high blood-pressure or smoking? Or are you routinely exposed to ultraviolet rays without specific protection? If so, it is advisable to see an ophthalmologist and assess the possibility of preventive treatment. If macular disease has already been diagnosed, symptoms may be reduced with the new specific medication administered via intravitreal injections. Vision can at least be improved by stimulating the metabolism of the macula or with the support of certain visual aids.
|is the damage the retina may suffer due to diabetes. If untreated this may seriously affect vision. It is diagnosed after first dilating the pupils by topical application of special eye-drops, which makes it easier to carefully examine the fundus (back of the eyeball lining). A retinal scanner (OCT) can also be used, in some cases complemented by fluorescein angiography. This chemical (harmless to the eye) is used for its contrasting effect to facilitate visual analysis of the retina. Early diagnosis is important to achieve better treatment results. So regular eye tests are recommendable if you are part of the population at risk, especially if you have any type of diabetes.
|Although early diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy can mean the patient does not require treatment in this first stage of the disease, careful regular follow-up checks is still necessary. Treatment will be required when the retina specialist observes that the retina is damaged and vision is threatened. Laser surgery is one of the first of the treatment alternatives, since by laser photocoagulation fragile or abnormal blood vessels are inhibited, avoiding leakages that progressively damage eyesight. In the case of a bleeding or detached retina, surgery can be performed using ‘vitrectomy‘ techniques. Currently, pharmaceutical treatment in the form of intraocular injections also allows the proliferation of abnormal blood vessels to be stemmed.
|Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD )
|The macula is the area of the retina responsible for most of our detailed vision. With age, our macula may suffer damage through degeneration and deterioration due to various causes, among which is aging. This tiny yellowish area is located in the central area of the retina, right next to the optic nerve, and is made up of highly light-sensitive tissue and is ‘in charge’ of providing clarity to our vision. If it is affected, we lose acuity in our central visual field and the image becomes blurry.
|Although until a few years ago ophthalmologists did not have effective treatments for ARMD, there are now a battery of drugs called antiangiogenics that can be applied directly into the ocular cavity by intravitreal injection during surgery, that is, administered directly into the eyeball. With this new generation of drugs, degeneration can be slowed down, and in some cases the lost visual acuity is regained. Your retina specialist will diagnose and recommend the best option in each case and the regular monitoring it requires.