Diseases of the Retina, Vitreous and Macula
It is one of the leading causes of blindness in people over the age of 60, although some patients have a genetic disposition. Macular degeneration is damage or breakdown of the Macula. The Macula is the small area at the back of the eye that allows us to see fine details clearly. When the Macula does not function correctly, we experience blurriness or darkness in the center of our vision. Macular degeneration affects both distance and close vision. Macular degeneration reduces the center vision; it does not affect the eye's side or peripheral vision. Macular degeneration alone does not result in total blindness. People continue to have useful vision and are able to take care of themselves.
Retinal Detachment and Vitreous Hemorrhage
A retinal detachment is when the Retina separates from the back wall of the eye and is removed from its blood supply and source of nutrition. The Retina will degenerate and lose its ability to function if it remains detached. A retinal detachment is a very serious problem and should you see flashes of light, floaters or curtains, see an ophthalmologist immediately. When a retinal tear occurs, retinal blood vessels may also be torn. When this happens, blood enters the Vitreous and the hemorrhage prevents the physician from seeing the Retina. An ultrasound can be performed in order to help find a tear in the Retina.
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of legal blindness in working age Americans. In diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels of the Retina become abnormal, which may cause problems with eyesight. When the blood vessels develop tiny leaks, it causes fluid to seep into the Retina, especially the Macula. When the leakage accumulates in the Macula, it becomes wet and swollen and cannot work properly. This form of diabetic retinopathy caused by leakage of the retinal blood vessels is called nonproliferative retinopathy.
Sometimes the retinal blood vessels can become obstructed. The retinal tissue, which depends on the vessels for its nutrition, will no longer work properly. The areas of the Retina where the blood vessels have become obstructed, then faster the growth of proliferation of abnormal blood vessels called neovascularization. This can cause bleeding and scar tissue that may result in severe loss of vision or blindness. This is called proliferative diabetic retinopathy.