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How can untreated Retinal diseases can lead to chronic blindness?

By admin | Feb 22, 2019

Normal Vision

Normal Vision

Vision with Retinal Disease

Vision with Retinal Disease

There are various retinal diseases that can lead to blindness if left untreated. It is important to understand each disease, common symptoms and risks associated with the disease in order to seek the best possible care.

Macular degeneration is a very common eye disorder that affects the retina.  It causes affects the macula, the part of the retina that allows you to see detail clearly. This causes patients to have trouble reading, seeing faces, or driving.  Macular degeneration is a progressive disease that may not show any symptoms in its early stages. Over time, the disease will cause degeneration of the macula, which can then cause symptoms to occur. There are two forms of macular degeneration: Wet and Dry. Dry macular degeneration is the most common type which causes drusen (small yellow deposits) to deposit itself under the macula causing retinal damage and vision loss.  Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels develop under the retina in the macular region. As a result, you may experience sudden painless decrease in vision. Symptoms may include but are not limited to distortion of straight lines, difficulty recognizing faces, and blurred vision.  If not treated in a timely manner, it can result in permanent decrease in vision.

Diabetic Retinopathy occurs with type 1 or 2 diabetes, and a long history of uncontrolled blood sugars. Early symptoms of diabetic retinopathy may be mild, but if left untreated, can lead to blindness. Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy occurs when damaged blood vessels leak blood into the back of the eye causing the retina and macula to swell.  Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is the advanced form of diabetic retinopathy, where abnormal blood vessels begin to grow in the retina. It can lead to bleeding in the eye, retinal detachments, or even glaucoma.  Symptoms may include difficulty seeing at night, black spots or floaters, and blurred vision.

Retinal Vascular occlusion can occur in two forms: Retinal vein occlusion or an artery occlusion. An artery occlusion is caused by a blockage to the arteries that carry oxygenated blood to the blood vessels. A proper workup is required to look for a source of the blockage as it could be due to a systemic problem such as heart disease.  A retinal vein occlusion is caused by the compression of the retinal vein.  This can cause blood and fluid to build up in the retina, causing blurry vision.

It is important to diagnose retinal diseases in a timely manner so that treatment can be offered whenever possible.  A delay in treatment can cause a permanent decline in vision.

There are several different treatment options for retinal diseases. Your eye care specialist will thoroughly explain treatment options and discuss which option is best for you. It is important to schedule a comprehensive, dilated eye exam regularly. Regular eye exams can detect any underlying eye disease that may have gone undetected.  If you begin to experience sudden changes in your vision, it is important to contact your eye care specialist right away. Here at Retina Consultants of Boston, we offer comprehensive eye exams with state-of-the-art technology to ensure our patients receive the best possible care. We are currently accepting new patient, please call and schedule an appointment today.

In the interest of maintaining further transparency and providing a wide breadth of information to our patients and providers, this blog will serve as an educational and informative resource on interesting happenings within Retina Consultants of Boston and in the greater field of Ophthalmology.

Here at Retina Consultants of Boston, Dr. John J. Weiter and Dr. Namrata Nandakumar are on the forefront of diagnostic techniques, treatment and micro-surgical techniques for macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachments, macular holes, and a number of other issues affecting the vitreous and retina. Check back here frequently for news and updates on our practice and all things retina!