Vitreoretinal Disease Management

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Vitreoretinal Disease Management

The vitreous (a gel-like substance that fills the eye) and the retina are located in the back of the eye. All of the physicians at the Eye Institute of Austin can perform retinal examinations. However, a retina specialist will be seeing patients out of our office every three weeks for more thorough examinations and for the convenience of our patients with more serious retina needs. Examples of diseases that may affect the vitreous and retina are:

Diabetic Retinopathy

A series of progressive changes in the retina characterized by bleeding (dot-blot hemorrhages), swelling (macular edema) and abnormal blood vessel growth (neovascularization.)  This can occur in long-standing diabetes or if diabetes is not well-controlled.  Diabetics are advised to have an eye examination on a yearly basis to screen for these abnormalities and a letter will be sent to your diabetes doctor to report on the status of your eyes.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

The deterioration of a specific region of the retina (the macula) responsible for sharp, clear central vision.  The “dry” form of the condition is detected by a disturbance in the pigmentation of the macula or by the presence of yellowish deposits just beneath the retina (called drusen.)  In the “wet” form, abnormal blood vessels grow beneath the retina which leak fluid and blood and alter the normal functioning of the macula.  Macular degeneration is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in this country.  Our physicians can discuss with you the role of nutritional supplements or retina treatments in caring for macular degeneration.

Macular Pucker/Epiretinal Membrane

Wrinkling of the central retina (the macula) caused by contraction of a thin membrane on the retinal surface which may produce distortion of vision.  Surgery to remove the membrane is sometimes recommended to improve vision.

Posterior Vitreous Detachment

Separation of the vitreous gel from the retinal surface as it liquefies and condenses over time.  Usually a harmless change that produces new flashes of light or “floaters” in one’s vision, but may lead to a retinal detachment in complicated cases.  Prompt examination of any new flashes of light or “floaters” is strongly encouraged to exclude a retinal detachment.

Retinal Tear or Detachment

A separation of the retina from the inner layers of the eye which can disrupt vision and cause loss of areas within the visual field.  Often requires immediate surgical repair.