Why is a healthy retina so important for overall vision and wellness? Unhealthy retinas are not capable of sending clear signals to your brain which can result in vision loss or impairment. There are many retinal conditions and diseases, but most can be treated when they are found early. Comprehensive eye exams are able to detect problems with the retina early-on to help you avoid serious diseases and complications. We recommend you visit your eye doctor annually or biannually to keep your eyes healthy. With retinal problems, you may not notice any symptoms even when a retina is threatened. Your retina has no nerve endings so you may not feel any pain and may continue to see sharply even though your retina is impaired. Problems with your retina can be a result of the following conditions or diseases:
Age-related Macular Degeneration
Glaucoma or Hypertension
Learn how your doctor will examine your retina and the amazing technology that will help you support your goal for a healthy retina.
You can’t actually see your retina just by looking in the mirror. Your ophthalmologist can see your retina using special devices to view inside your eye, allowing you to view your healthy retina and everything it contains. The retina is a thin light-sensitive layer of tissue at the very back of your eye near the optic nerve. Light will pass through the lens of your eye, and it’s the job of the retina to convert that light into neural signals that it will send to the brain via the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the nerve that connects your eyes to your brain. The signals that the brain receives will help it interpret the images that you see. A healthy retina contains photosensitive cells that are known as rods and cones. The rods perceive vision and color at low light levels and the cones perceive vision and color at high light levels, making up the image your eye sees. The retina also contains a part of the eye called the fovea, which does most of the color perception in your eye and is also the center of the eye’s sharpest vision. Your retina does not have nerve endings, so you may not feel any retinal problems, but you may start to experience blurry vision as an indicator that something is amiss.
Did you know that there are at least 29 retinal problems that could occur if you don’t keep your eyes healthy? A common retinal problem some people experience is retinal detachment. The American Academy of Ophthalmology tells us that the middle of our eye is filled with a clear gel called vitreous. Tiny clumps in this gel may form, casting shadows on our retina, and causing us to see floaters. Other times, this gel may shrink, pulling on the retina a bit. That could cause us to see flashes or to be “seeing stars”. These are common instances and do not generally do us any harm. However, if the vitreous—or the clear gel—moves too far away from the retina, it can tear the retina, allowing fluid to leak into the tissue. This will cause the retina to detach from the back of the eye much like wallpaper that is peeling. Your retina cannot send proper signals to the brain and your vision will become blurry. This can lead to blindness quickly if left untreated.
Diabetic retinopathy is another common condition, but usually only occurs in those who have diabetes. Diabetes can damage blood vessels in the eyes over time, causing them to leak blood or fluid, which will, in turn, cause the retina to swell. This will cause blurry vision and must be treated to regain that vision.
Macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of blindness in people. The macula is the retina’s central part that receives images and focuses vision, where the information will then be sent to the brain. Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the central part of the retina vital to clear vision. Dark spots in your vision will begin to appear until blindness sets in. There is no cure for this, but you can protect your eyes by wearing proper prescription-grade sunglasses and indoor glasses to protect your eyes from blue light (such as from phones, TVs, and other electrical devices).
Glaucoma causes fluid buildup in the front part of your eye, which will then put pressure on the optic nerve. In many cases, the optic nerve will be damaged and electrical impulses cannot be sent properly to the brain, resulting in blurry vision or blindness. The good news? Glaucoma can be treated and blindness can be prevented with early treatment. Hypertension is closely tied to glaucoma, as it usually causes glaucoma to set in. Ocular hypertension is when fluid does not properly drain in the front part of the eye, causing that buildup and pressure that will eventually damage the optic nerve.
Annual and biannual eye exams are always a good idea, as your health would seriously be affected if problems arose. A healthy retina is especially important for a continual clear vision. As we said, you won’t be able to see your retina just by looking in the mirror, but your ophthalmologist will be able to see into your eye during an eye exam. Usually, we will dilate your eyes so that your eyes will be as wide as possible to view the tissue inside. We will then use a magnifying lens with a light to view inside each eye. We will use an ophthalmoscope or a microscope to do an assessment from the front to the back of your eye. You will feel like you are looking through binoculars at a bright light, but it is only for a few moments. This light allows us to see all the tissues and nerves inside the eye to examine their size, shape, and location and check for any abnormalities. Because we can see the actual tissues of the eyes, we may be able to spot problems before you have even had symptoms manifest. That is the ideal situation, so problems can be reversed easily. We will also check your vision with eye charts, and check for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and that both eyes are working properly together.
The retina plays a vital role in vision, and any damage to it can lead to permanent blindness. That is why it’s so important to see your ophthalmologist if there is anything off with your vision. Many problems can be corrected, but they must be caught early. Keeping up consistent eye exams with us is one of the smartest things you can do to keep your eyes healthy. If you are in need of an eye exam or experience an eye emergency, call us at (303) 377-0752 and we will help get your vision back to where it should be.
Topics: healthy retina