Diseases of the Retina

Retinal diseases specifically affect the retina — a layer of tissue at the back of the eye that is responsible for vision. These diseases can affect the retina, the macula (area of central vision), or the fovea at the center of the macula. Many retinal diseases share common symptoms and treatments, but each has unique characteristics.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a degenerative retinal disease which affects many adults in their early sixties. AMD development is a progressive and painless. It gradually destroys the vision needed to function daily while involved in task such as watching TV, reading, writing and driving. As AMD advances, it can be devastating to ones mobility and thus makes daily living very difficult often requiring special aid and special assistance.

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Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina.

If you have diabetic retinopathy, at first you may not notice changes to your vision. But over time, diabetic retinopathy can get worse and cause vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes.

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Visible clumps of material within the vitreous which appear to move with eye movement. In most cases these are harmless - but occasionally they are associated with impending retina detachment.

Retinal Detachment

In retinal detachment, a black curtain obscures part of the field of vision corresponding to the portion of the retina that is detached. This is an emergency that often requires immediate surgery.

Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP)

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is the name for a group of inherited disorders involving deterioration of the retinal photoreceptors. The disease begins in childhood with night blindness, progressing to very limited tunnel vision in adulthood or even complete blindness. There is no treatment for this disorder. Transplantation research offers hope for effective treatment in the 21st Century.

Ocular Cancers

Fortunately, most ocular cancers can now be treated without loss of sight.

Melanoma, one of the most aggressive skin cancers, can occur in the choroid behind the retina. Radiation therapy and laser treatment are common treatments for this condition.

Retinoblastoma, the most common eye cancer of childhood, can be inherited or can arise spontaneously. In the inherited form, the patient is predisposed to develop other cancers later in life. The eyes of children at risk must be examined often under anesthesia, but scientists are hoping to perfect new diagnostic tests.