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Retinal Conditions

Conditions of the retina deserve advanced care from an experienced specialist. Among retinal detachment and macular degeneration, some of our most commonly treated retinal conditions include:

  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Stroke of the eye
  • Autoimmune conditions of the eye
  • Nevus or melanoma of the eye

What is the Retina?

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. The following conditions are among many that may affect the retina:

Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is one of the most severe surgically-treatable eye conditions and can result in blindness if not treated promptly. The retina generally detaches when it becomes torn, allowing fluid to collect between the retina and the underlying tissue. As a result, individuals suffering from retinal detachment will experience progressive peripheral vision loss as the retina detaches.

Causes of Retinal Detachment

The causes of retinal detachment are not well understood. Diabetic retinopathy, severe nearsightedness (myopia) and aging are risk factors for retinal detachment. Heredity is also a contributing factor.

Treatments for Retinal Detachment

Our specialists perform retinal detachment procedures from the Cascade Ambulatory Surgery Center, located within our Puyallup clinic. The success rate for retinal reattachment surgery is close to 90 percent. However, as retinal detachment advances, 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 seeing 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 & Skin Centers immediately.

Macular Degeneration

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.

Types of Macular Degeneration

There are two forms of age-related macular degeneration: wet and dry.

Dry ARMD: The most common form of this disease, dry ARMD is a slowly developing condition in which the macula gradually deteriorates.

Wet ARMD: Only 10 to 15 percent of macular degeneration patients have the wet form of the disease, but it is the most severe type and can lead to vision loss. Wet ARMD causes blood vessels under the macula to bleed, causing rapid damage.

Treating Wet Macular Degeneration

Wet macular degeneration can be treated using a number of strategies, including non-surgical methods. Drugs known as anti-vascular endothelial growth factor agents (anti-VEGF) such as Avastin®, Eylea® and Lucentis® cause abnormal new blood vessels to shrink, reducing the risk of further bleeding and fluid leakage and stabilizing vision. These medications are administered by painless injection. It is often necessary for treatments to be repeated on a periodic basis.

Nutrition and AMD Prevention

While no treatments are available for advanced cases of dry macular degeneration, the National Institute of Health conducted a seven-year clinical trial of certain vitamins and minerals that were shown to significantly lower the risk of developing advanced AMD. High doses of the following supplements may reduce the risk of developing advanced AMD by up to 25 percent in patients who show early signs of the condition.

  • Lutein
  • Zeaxanthin
  • Beta-carotene
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc
  • Other antioxidants

Diabetic Retinopathy

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, which refers to leaking blood vessels or the formation of new abnormal blood vessels that can damage vision by causing bleeding inside the eye or by causing the retina to swell or detach. Annual dilated vision exams are important for everyone, especially for people in this group.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy

Anti-VEGF injections are also used in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. Clinical trials have shown that they are helpful in most patients, but some patients may require steroid injections or laser treatments (photocoagulation) to seal leaking abnormal 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.

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