Problems that can affect the retina and its treatments

Problems that can affect the retina and its treatments

The retina is the layer of photosensitive cells that are located at the bottom of the inner part of the eye, responsible for capturing the light that enters the eye and forming the images that are sent to the brain, making them a fundamental part of the vision.

That is why any problem that affects and damages the retina can cause significant loss of vision and even blindness, so it is of great importance to treat any pathology or damage that affects the retina as soon as possible, to minimize the loss of vision, and preserving as much as possible.

Next, Dr. Ángel Cilveti, head of the Ophthalmology Service at Vithas Xanit Internacional, tells us what are some of the most common problems that can affect the retina, what they consist of and their treatments:

Retinal detachments

Retinal detachment is a serious problem that can cause severe and permanent vision loss. It must be treated as soon as possible to minimize such loss and preserve vision to the maximum, and for this it is essential to reposition and fix the retina in its correct position.

There are several reasons why the retina can detach from the tissue on which it is located at the bottom of the eye: due to a rupture, other pathologies that retract it, certain types of tumors… In some cases, when the vitreous (transparent gel that occupies the inside of the eye), degenerates and collapses due to aging, separating from the retina, it can “pull” the retina, breaking it and causing it to detach.

The amount of vision recovered after treatment depends largely on the time that has elapsed since the detachment occurs until it is treated, as well as on the affected area (being greater the loss of vision if part of the central area of the retina is detached, called the macula) and the size of the detachment.

Some of the symptoms that may indicate the appearance of a retinal detachment are the following:

  • Appearance of a “black curtain” in the visual field.
  • See non-existent flashes of light (called “photopsies”)

  • Appearance of dark spots in the visual field that move spontaneously. They are not always due to a retinal detachment, but if many appear suddenly and accompanied by other symptoms, it is very possible that the cause is a detachment.

In the event of the appearance of any of these symptoms, it is recommended to go to the ophthalmologist as soon as possible for a review.

For the treatment and repair of retinal detachments, various surgical and laser techniques are used, the technique chosen will depend on which is most appropriate to treat each case. More information about retinal detachment and its treatments.

In addition to the detachments, what is known as “macular holes” can also occur, which consist of ruptures in the central area of the retina or macula, causing significant loss of vision. As with detachments, they should also be treated as soon as possible to avoid irreversible deterioration of vision.

Diabetic retinopathy

It is an ocular complication derived from diabetes, produced when the blood vessels that supply the cells of the retina deteriorate. In its early stages, in which it is called “non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy“, the deterioration of these vessels causes them to swell and leak, which damages vision causing it to be blurred. When the disease is more advanced and the existing blood vessels cannot provide the necessary blood and oxygen, new blood vessels form, receiving the name of “proliferative diabetic retinopathy“, severely damaging vision.

In its early stages, diabetic retinopathy does not produce noticeable symptoms, so in order to detect it early and treat it in time to minimize vision loss as much as possible, a fundus check is recommended at least once a year at those with diabetes.

Treatment will depend on how advanced the pathology is:

  • In cases in which the retinal blood vessels have only just begun to deteriorate, a medical control of sugar and blood pressure may be enough to slow down the progression of the pathology and the loss of vision. Depending on the case, medication treatments are also used.
  • Laser surgery, used to seal blood vessels when they have started to leak, or to prevent them from growing back.

  • In advanced cases of proliferative diabetic retinopathy, in which laser treatment is not sufficient, a surgery called vitrectomy is used, through which the surgeon can access the fundus from the inside and extract the abnormal blood vessels and scar tissues that are formed due to these, allowing the retina to collect and transmit light correctly, thus recovering part of the lost vision.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

It consists of a degeneration of the macula, the central area of the retina responsible for central vision, causing deformation of the images and loss of central vision, both near and far.

It usually appears in patients older than 60 years, although in some cases it occurs even from the age of 50.

There are two types of AMD:

  • Dry or atrophic AMD, which is the most frequent, with a slow and gradual evolution. Since vision loss occurs gradually, its symptoms are often not perceived by the patient until vision loss is already significant. Unfortunately, this type of AMD currently has no cure, so treatments consist of slowing down as much as possible its progression and loss of vision. For this, various treatments are used: with vitamin supplements, antioxidants…
  • Wet or exudative AMD, although less frequent, has a rapid progression, causing rapid deterioration of vision in a matter of days. This type of AMD can be treated, stopping its progression and even recovering part of the lost vision, but it is very important to treat it as soon as possible to minimize vision loss.

Epiretinal membranes

They consist of the development of a transparent membrane over the retina tissue, especially in its central area known as the macula. When this membrane wrinkles, it deforms the retina causing deterioration of vision.

When it is a mild case, it is not necessary to intervene and its progression is simply monitored in periodic reviews, but if it worsens, it is necessary to intervene through surgery, which consists of performing a vitrectomy, which allows the surgeon to access the retina and remove the membrane that has formed on it.

Vitreous floating bodies (myodesopsias)

Also commonly known as “floaters“, these are opacities that have formed in the vitreous (transparent gel that fills the eye), which are perceived in vision as floating points or bodies that move with the movements of the eye.

It is common that they appear with age, and if they are mild they do not require treatment. They are usually only treated in cases where they markedly interfere with vision, in which case a vitrectomy can be performed to remove them. As previously mentioned, if they appear, it is advisable to go to the ophthalmologist for a review as soon as possible, since they can be a symptom of a more serious problem such as a retinal detachment.

Treatment of retinal problems at Vithas Xanit Internacional

If you need an ophthalmology specialist, either to treat a retina problem or simply for a review, remember that in the Ophthalmology Unit at Vithas Xanit Internacional we put at your disposal the best specialists, who together with the latest equipment and techniques, allow us to offer you the best results in the treatment of any ocular pathology or vision correction. Contact us for more information or make an appointment.