There are many conditions that may affect the retinal, some of which include:
Aged-related macular degeneration (AMD): AMD is a chronic retinal eye condition that leads to progressive central vision loss whilst not affecting peripheral side vision. It mostly affects people aged 50 and above.
Early stage AMD involves waste products from the retina building up and creating yellow fatty deposits called drusen.
Late stage AMD is when loss of vision is involved. There are two types of late stage AMD; wet and dry.
During the early stages of AMD, symptoms usually are not noticed. As the disease worsens, noticeable symptoms include having difficulty when reading, distortion, problems distinguishing faces and dark spots/patches in central vision.
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Retinal vein occlusions (RVO): RVOs occur when veins in the retina become blocked, leading to vision loss. It usually only occurs in one eye and does not cause total blackness. The main cause of a RVO is a blood clot. This can occur as a result of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and/or other disorders that cause blood clots.
Symptoms include a gradual, painless loss of vision, which is sometimes not noticed depending on how peripheral (away from the macular) the blockage has occurred.
Diabetic Eye Disease: Diabetic retinopathy involves damage to the retina over time due to high blood glucose levels. Early stages involve leakage of fluid from retinal blood vessels this is called non-proliferative retinopathy, which does not normally affect vision, but over time the leakage can cause swelling (oedema), when the swelling is in the central macular area (diabetic macular edema [DME]) it can cause loss of central vision. Diabetic retinopahthy can also cause blockage of the small retinal vessels, resulting in more blinding affects on vision. This is called proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR).
As early stages usually do not show any symptoms it is important to get your eyes checked regularly by an optometrist or ophthalmologist if you are diabetic.
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Retinal Detachment: this occurs when the retina separates from the back of the inside of the eye. It is important that it is attended to and treated immediately as it may result in permanent loss of vision if not treated.
Causes include: holes and tears in the retina allowing fluid to leak between the layers; a direct blow to the eye; condition such as diabetic retinopathy and inflammation or tumours.
Symptoms include floaters – (they can be shaped as spots, rings, worms, spider legs or cobwebs). Most of the time these floaters are not of concern and can be normal due to age especially if the floaters have been present for months/years. If you notice a dramatic increase in the number of floaters however you should have your eyes checked as soon as you can by you eye specialist.
Flashing lights are another symptom – they are mainly seen from the edges of the vision. They do not always indicate a retinal detachment, however, there is no way of knowing until your eyes are examined.
Blurring of vision can also occur although this can be caused by many other conditions.
Dark shadows or curtain moving in vision that you can not see through is a big indication of retinal detachment. If you experience this symptom you should see your ophthalmologist or present to the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital immediately.
Epiretinal membrane (ERM): ERM is scar tissue that forms on the macular and can cause blurry vision and/or distortion. In most cases no treatment is necessary. However, if vision deteriorates to the point where it affects daily activities, surgery is required.
Macula Hole: This is a small break in the macula. This occurs due to the "jelly" (vitreous) in the eye becoming less solid and moving away from the retina in the back and towards the centre. These changes to the vitreous don't usually cause any vision loss but can cause floaters and/or flashes of light. When the vitreous begins to become less solid, in some cases, it may pull the retina and cause a small tear, leading to a macular hole.
Symptoms include waviness/distortion in straight lines, trouble reading. Late stage symptoms include small blank patches in vision.
OCT scans (optical coherence tomography) and OCT angiography are available at EMEG to detect and access retinal conditions.