We can help improve your vision
What is the Retina?
The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye. Images that come through the eye’s lens are focused on the retina. The retina then converts these images to electric signals and sends them along the optic nerve to the brain so you can see.
There are many types of retina diseases including:
- Retinal tear. A retinal tear occurs when the clear, gel-like substance in the center of your eye (vitreous) shrinks and tugs on the thin layer of tissue lining the back of your eye (retina) with enough traction to cause a break in the tissue. It’s often accompanied by the sudden onset of symptoms such as floaters and flashing lights.
- Retinal detachment. A retinal detachment is defined by the presence of fluid under the retina. This usually occurs when fluid passes through a retinal tear, causing the retina to lift away from the underlying tissue layers.
- Diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetes, the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) in the back of your eye can deteriorate and leak fluid into and under the retina. This causes the retina to swell, which may blur or distort your vision. Or you may develop new, abnormal capillaries that break and bleed. This also worsens your vision.
- Epiretinal membrane. Epiretinal membrane is a delicate tissue-like scar or membrane that looks like crinkled cellophane lying on top of the retina. This membrane pulls up on the retina, which distorts your vision. Objects may appear blurred or crooked.
- Macular hole. A macular hole is a small defect in the center of the retina at the back of your eye (macula). The hole may develop from abnormal traction between the retina and the vitreous, or it may follow an injury to the eye.
- Macular degeneration. In macular degeneration, the center of your retina begins to deteriorate. This causes symptoms such as blurred central vision or a blind spot in the center of the visual field. There are two types — wet macular degeneration and dry macular degeneration. Many people will first have the dry form, which can progress to the wet form in one or both eyes.
- Retinitis pigmentosa. Retinitis pigmentosa is an inherited degenerative disease. It slowly affects the retina and causes loss of night and side vision.
Many retina treatments can help stop or slow the disease progression, oftentimes improving or restoring your vision.
Advances in technology have made it possible for us to diagnose many conditions sooner, which can result in earlier intervention and more preservation of sight. At Collins Vision, we’re proud to be a regional leader in diagnosing and treating many retina conditions, specifically those associated with diabetes.
MICROPULSE LASER THERAPY FOR MORE PRECISE RETINA TREATMENT
We’re excited to let patients know we are among the first and only in the area to offer our patients the latest in laser technology for the treatment of diabetic macular edema: the IRIDEX patented MicroPulse Laser Therapy (MPLT). Compared to conventional laser treatments for diabetic eye disease, this new platform delivers the capability for more precise treatment with a lower risk for retinal damage.
Because of the patented micro-pulse technology, treatment can be repeated as often as needed without harm to your vision. MPLT chops the continuous-wave laser beam into a series of tiny, repetitive, low-energy pulses separated by a brief period of rest in between. This allows the retina to cool between pulses, preventing potential damage to the retina. MPLT treatment is performed right here in our office in a comfortable outpatient setting. Treatment takes just a few minutes, and most patients describe it as comfortable and pain-free. Unlike conventional laser treatment, many patients note improved visual function within a week of treatment, and there is no risk of treatment-associated visual loss.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the area of the retina called the macula. This small area is responsible for producing sharp, central vision required for “straight ahead” activities such as driving, reading, recognizing faces, and performing close-up work. AMD destroys cells in the area of the macula in two different forms, “dry” and “wet.”
Dry AMD can advance so slowly that people hardly notice the change on a day-to-day basis, but over the long term, dry AMD may result in significant vision loss. Dry AMD can rapidly progress to the wet AMD with extreme vision loss in one or both eyes. If you have a family history of AMD, are over 59, or have been diagnosed with AMD, you should schedule an examination with Dr. Collins. There is no cure for macular degeneration, but Dr. Collins can recommend treatment that may be able to delay its progression or even improve your vision.
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes and is a leading cause of blindness in the US today. Diabetes causes weakening of the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. Left untreated, these weakened blood vessels can leak, leading to vision loss.
If you have diabetes, it’s important to work closely with your trusted Collins Vision eye doctors to stay ahead of any potential complications that could affect your vision. Our own Dr. Jason Friedrichs has special interest and more than a decade of experience in this area.
Dr. Friedrichs is a board-certified ophthalmologist with residency training from the University of Iowa, which consistently ranks among the best ophthalmology training centers in the country by Ophthalmology Times and U.S. News & World Report. He has more than 10 years of experience in treating medical retina issues and has participated in numerous studies related to the latest in injection therapy and latest laser treatments.
Diabetic retinopathy typically develops without any warning signs. Damage to the eye can occur slowly and may go unnoticed until there is significant damage. For this reason, anyone with diabetes should receive regular monitoring by an experienced eye doctor.
Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment
Treatment for diabetic retinopathy is highly individualized and will be based on your age, medical history and degree of damage to your retina. In its earliest stages, diabetic retinopathy may not require treatment beyond regular monitoring by your Collins Vision doctor.
If treatment is required, one of our trained physicians will explain all your options, including risks, benefits and alternatives before recommending the most appropriate treatment course for you. Treatment can include referral to a specialist for:
Intravitreal injections. This is the injection of medication into the back of the eye to help reduce fluid leakage associated with diabetic retinopathy.
Photocoagulation. This procedure involves a laser that is used to finely cauterize and seal or shrink the weakened blood vessels.
In severe cases, the retina can become detached due to diabetic retinopathy and may require surgery.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON SYMPTOMS OF RETINA DISEASE?
There are some shared signs and symptoms of retina diseases. They may include:
- Seeing floating specks or cobwebs
- Blurred or distorted (straight lines look wavy) vision
- Defects in the side vision
- Lost vision
ARE THERE ANY COMMON RISK FACTORS?
Some risk factors for retina diseases can include:
- Being obese
- Having diabetes or other diseases
- Eye trauma
- A family history of retinal diseases
WHICH EYE CONDITIONS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH DIABETES?
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common microvascular complication among people with diabetes and results in more than 10,000 new cases of blindness each year. Diabetic macular edema is a related condition and is the most common cause of visual loss in people living with diabetes.
Although cataracts are considered a normal part of aging, people with diabetes are at higher risk for developing them at a younger age, two to five times more likely, to be exact. Additionally, people with diabetes are more likely to develop glaucoma, an eye condition that is associated with a build-up of pressure in the eye that can come in several forms or types.
WHAT CAUSES DIABETIC RETINOPATHY?
Diabetes causes the weakening of the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. As a result, fluid and blood leak from these weakened vessels, and new vessels that grow can be distorted and begin to bleed. This change can injure the retina, leading to loss of vision.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF DIABETIC RETINOPATHY?
Diabetic retinopathy typically develops without any warning signs. Damage to the eye can occur slowly and may go unnoticed until there is significant damage. For this reason, anyone with diabetes should receive regular monitoring by a retina specialist.
HOW ARE DIABETIC RETINOPATHY AND DIABETIC MACULAR EDEMA TREATED?
Treatment for diabetic eye disease is highly individualized and will be based on your age, medical history, lifestyle and the degree of damage to your retina. In its earliest stages, diabetic retinopathy may not require treatment beyond regular monitoring by your eye doctor.
If treatment is required, we will go over all your options, including risks, benefits and alternatives, before deciding on the best treatment plan for your unique situation. Medical management typically includes intravitreal injections or laser therapy (also called photocoagulation) to seal or shrink leaking blood vessels.