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World Retina Week, which is being observed from 21 to 27 September, raise awareness about retinal problems which affect millions of people worldwide. If left untreated, some retinal diseases can lead to vision loss or blindness. Early detection is important to prevent any disease from worsening further and for better treatment outcomes.
To understand the common retinal diseases and associated symptoms as well as the available treatment options, we connected with Dr Sanghamitra Kanungo, Kar Vision Eye Hospital Pvt Ltd, Bhubaneswar. Excerpts follow:
The retina is a layer of tissue located in the back of the eye that features several light-sensitive photoreceptor cells (rods and cones) and other cells that receive and organise visual information. These cells detect light and transfer images to the brain, via the optic nerve thereby enabling people to see. Retinal diseases vary widely, but most of them cause visual symptoms. While some can cause mild vision issues, others can lead to blindness. Therefore, in case of any abnormality in vision, one should consider it an emergency and immediately visit an ophthalmologist.
With passing time and advancement in equipment and technology has made retinal diagnosis more precise. Apart from making treatments less invasive, technological and medical innovations are also helping to restore and improve the vision of several patients.
Some of the common retinal diseases include:
The condition occurs when fluid build-up through a retinal tear, resulting in the detachment of the retina from the choroid (the eye layer that provides the retina with oxygen and nutrients). It is an emergency, if left untreated, can also lead to permanent vision loss.
A retinal tear occurs when there is a hole or tear in the retina. It usually occurs when the vitreous (a jelly-like substance in the eye) attached to the retina pulls hard enough to tear it. The vitreous can detach as part of the ageing process or can also result from trauma. People with this condition experience flashes of light or floaters or blurry vision.
Damage to the blood vessels of the retina can cause bleed and leakage with fluid accumulation that can affect vision termed as retinopathy. There are different systemic conditions like hypertension, diabetes, sickle cell disease and cancer which can cause retinopathy. As diabetics in India is increasing so also diabetic retinopathy which is now becoming a leading cause of visual loss. All diabetics are at a risk of visual loss, therefore a regular follow up with an Ophthalmologist and control of parameters is essential.
Since macular degeneration most commonly occurs in older adults, it is also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In this condition, the degeneration of the macula results in distorted central vision which can worsen over time and also cause permanent vision loss.
Retinal vein occlusion
It occurs when a branch or the central vein of the retina is blocked. May occur in patients with diabetes, hypertension, glaucoma or natural aging process. It causes bleeding and macular edema leading to visual loss.
It is a rare genetic degenerative causes defective night vision caused due to loss of photo receptor cells of the retina. The condition can cause a progressive loss of vision.
Retinal conditions and disorders can have a number of identical symptoms, which may include:
A timely diagnosis and early treatment can prevent the disease and further visual loss. Different treatment options available are:
Retinal problems can occur in anyone and cause difficulty in vision. Early detection is the key to stopping the disease from worsening further. In case of any changes in vision, one should immediately consult with an eye specialist.
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