What is the retina?
The retina is the deepest layer in the back of the eye and this portion receives light. It consists of nerves and light-sensitive cells called rods and cones. Rods help us to see at low light and cones help us to see in sunlight or colored light. The retina receives light that passes through the lens and then converts it to neural signals. These signals travel to the brain and result in visual recognition. The retina is important for vision.
If damage occurs to the retina, it is called retinopathy. Retinopathy has numerous causes which result in vision loss.
What causes damage to the retina?
If any medical condition affects blood vessels in the retina, then it might result in retinopathy. Some of the common causes of retinopathy are-
Diabetes: The blood vessels begin deteriorating in diabetes. These deteriorated vessels can be blocked or deformed which causes accumulation of fluid or swelling in the retina, resulting in reduced vision. The blood vessels can likewise get unstable and start to bleed. Bleeding results in irritation, scarring, and diminished vision. This can usually take a year to develop and is called retinopathy.
High blood pressure: Damage to the retina because of high blood pressure is called hypertensive retinopathy. It can cause bleeding in blood vessels. There may not be any symptoms of hypertensive retinopathy in the beginning phases but it could be analyzed during a normal eye test.
Serous retinopathy: This includes the building up of serous liquid in the retina, resulting in reduced vision. Serous retinopathy can happen because of specific drugs like steroids or stress. Stress expands the degree of steroid chemicals in the body.
Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP): This happens when a child is conceived prematurely or if the birth weight is low. The blood vessels in the retina are not developed. There might be no side effects in the beginning phases however can eventually result in retinal detachment and blindness.
Tumors: Tumors including the retina like retinoblastoma.
Retinitis pigmentosa: It is an acquired disease that gradually deteriorates the retina, causing loss of night and side vision.
Retinal tears and retinal detachment: The vitreous liquid is a clear, gel-like substance that fills the large hole of the eye, which is lined by the retina. At the time of birth, this gel is connected to the retina, but with increasing age, the gel detaches from the retina and causes retinal tears and detachment. Generally, this happens for no particular reason.
Macular degeneration: The macula is an oval spot situated close to the center of the retina. In macular degeneration, the center point of the retina starts to deteriorate. This causes blurry vision or even blind spots.
Other medical conditions and infections:
Blood issues, for example, sickle cell anemia
Infections like tuberculosis
What are the symptoms of a damaged retina?
- Dim vision
- Blurry vision
- Flashes of light
- shadows in the edges of the eyes
- Black spots
- Distorted shapes
- Trouble perusing or performing tasks that require detailed vision like weaving or painting
- Blind spots
- Decreased vision or a loss of peripheral vision
- Abrupt loss of vision
How is retinal harm diagnosed?
A detailed history will be taken and a specialized eye test will be done to diagnose retinal harm including-
- fundus autofluorescence,
- fluorescein angiography,
- Amsler grid vision test,
- CT and
Retinal diseases can show no sign at the beginning. So the only way to diagnose it at an early stage is through routine eye tests. Blood and radiological examinations to identify hidden conditions that cause retinal harm might be required.
Can a harmed retina be restored?
Early identification of the disease and treatment can help stop the spread of the infection just as the loss of vision, and help in restoring vision. The time taken for the vision to be restored relies upon the seriousness of the sickness. There is a likelihood that vision may never completely recover. There are a few treatment alternatives available to treat a harmed retina.
One or various medicines can be combined, including:
Photocoagulation abnormal blood vessels
Cryopexy: Extreme cold treatment used to treat the retinal tears
Injecting air or gas for treating retinal detachment
Injecting medication into the eyes
Vitrectomy: Surgery to remove vitreous liquid
Retinal prosthesis: This can help restore vision to individuals who are blind. A small electrode chip is implanted in the retina that gets input from a video camera attached to a pair of eyeglasses,
Treatment of underlying medical conditions
Diet and changes in lifestyle to improve retinal strength: A healthy diet rich in supplements (particularly nutrient A), satisfactory rest, and sufficient hydration with the management of physical and emotional stress.
Avoiding eye pressure by taking breaks from the screen or while reading.