Retinal Detachment, Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Retinopathy
At Cascade Eye & Skin Centers, P.C., we provide comprehensive state-of-the-art retinal services. We treat diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment, macular degeneration, and other retinal conditions for patients all across Washington state. Our primary retina service is located in our University Place office.
The retina is a thin membrane that lines most of the inner eye. An image reflected from an object is focused by the cornea and lens and is projected onto the retina. Light then travels from the retina through the optic nerve to the brain, where vision occurs.
Retinal detachment is one of the most serious surgically treatable eye conditions and can result in blindness if not treated promptly. The retina generally detaches when it becomes torn, which allows fluid to collect between the retina and the underlying tissue. Individuals suffering from retinal detachment will experience progressive peripheral vision loss as the retina detaches.
Many causes of retinal detachment are not well understood. The retina can detach after trauma. Diabetic retinopathy and severe nearsightedness (myopia) are risk factors for retinal detachment. Heredity is also a contributing factor.
The success rate for retinal reattachment surgery is close to 90 percent. As retinal detachment advances, however, the risk of vision loss and complications from surgery increases. For this reason, it is important to see your Cascade ophthalmologist immediately if you develop symptoms of flashing lights and floating objects in your field of vision, which are frequently the first signs of retinal detachment. If you think you may have suffered a retinal detachment contact Cascade Eye and Skin Centers, P.C. immediately.
The central area of the retina responsible for high-resolution central vision is known as the macula. Damage to the macula causes a loss of central vision. Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is a leading cause of vision loss among Americans over the age of 60. In patients suffering from macular degeneration, retinal deposits, atrophy, and bleeding may occur.
There are two forms of age-related macular degeneration: wet and dry. The more common form, dry ARMD, is a slowly developing condition in which the macula gradually deteriorates. Only 10 to 15 percent of macular degeneration patients have the wet form of the disease, but this condition accounts for the most serious type of vision loss from ARMD. In this condition, blood vessels under the macula bleed, causing rapid damage.
Treating Wet Macular Degeneration
Wet macular degeneration can be treated using a number of strategies. Laser photocoagulation is one useful option in which the macula is treated with laser light that seals leaking blood vessels. Further treatment is required as new vessels begin to leak.
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is an advanced form of laser treatment for some types of wet macular degeneration. In PDT, a light sensitive dye called verteporfin (Visudyne®) is injected into an arm vein. This dye circulates throughout the body, and is taken up preferentially by the abnormal blood vessels in the macular area. A non-thermal laser is then applied to these abnormal blood vessels containing the dye. The laser selectively treats these abnormal blood vessels containing the photosensitive dye and shrinks them without damage to the surrounding tissue. It often takes several treatments to stop leakage from the abnormal blood vessels.
There are also non-surgical treatments for wet ARMD. Drugs known as anti-vascular endothelial growth factor agents (anti-VEGF) such as Avastin® and Lucentis® cause abnormal new blood vessels to shrink, reducing the risk of further bleeding and fluid leakage. These medications are administered by painless injection. Treatment must often be repeated periodically. Cascade’s macular degeneration patients can often have their vision stabilized with anti-VEGF agents such as Avastin® and Lucentis®.
Nutrition and AMD Prevention
While no treatments are available for advanced cases of dry macular degeneration, current research suggests that certain vitamins and minerals significantly lower the risk of developing advanced AMD. Taking high doses of lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and other anti-oxidants, reduces the risk of developing advanced AMD by up to 25 percent in patients who show early signs of the condition.
Diabetics are up to 25 times more likely to suffer vision loss than non-diabetics. Up to 80 percent of long-term diabetics show signs of diabetic retinopathy. Regular vision exams are important for everyone, especially for diabetics. Diabetic retinopathy refers to leaking blood vessels or new abnormal blood vessels that can damage vision by causing bleeding inside the eye or by causing the retina to swell or detach.
Laser treatment (photocoagulation) can be applied to seal leaking blood vessels or to reduce the growth of abnormal new blood vessels inside the eye. Early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to retaining vision for patients with diabetic retinopathy.
Schedule your visit with one of the skilled providers of Cascade Eye and Skin Centers today, (253) 848-3000.