Retinal Disease

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is the name for a group of eye diseases. RP causes the thin layer of tissue in the back of the eye, which is called the retina, to deteriorate. RP diseases are genetic and are passed down from one or both parents.

Retinal pigmentosa can cause serious vision loss and affects roughly 400 thousand Americans. Symptoms of RP are not limited to any one age group. The first signs may appear in adulthood, but usually appear during childhood or adolescence. The two most common symptoms are a slow adaptation to dim light (night blindness) and a slow loss of side vision.

Retinal detachment: The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye and sends visual messages through the optic nerve to the brain. When the retina detaches, it is lifted or pulled from its normal position. If not promptly treated, retinal detachment can cause permanent vision loss.

In some cases there may be small areas of the retina that are torn. These areas, called retinal tears or retinal breaks, can lead to retinal detachment.

Symptoms include a sudden or gradual increase in either the number of floaters, which are little “cobwebs” or specks that float about in your field of vision, and/or light flashes in the eye. Another symptom is the appearance of a curtain over the field of vision. Anyone experiencing the symptoms of a retinal detachment should see an eye care professional immediately.

Retinoblastoma is a rare type of eye cancer that develops in the retina. Although this disorder can occur at any age, it usually develops in young children. The most common sign of this disorder is a visible whiteness in the normally black pupil.

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that affects people with diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy harms the blood vessels in the retina. These small blood vessels become weak and break down, leak or bleed. If this occurs, your vision can become distorted or clouded. Scars from healing blood vessels can cause the retina to pull away from the back of the eye. The retina can then tear or become detached. This can lead to serious vision loss or blindness.

Anyone with diabetes is at risk for diabetic retinopathy. It affects more than 4.4 million Americans age 40 and over. The longer you have diabetes, the greater risk you have of developing diabetic retinopathy. The best prevention is controlling blood sugar levels and seeing an eye doctor at least once a year for a dilated eye exam.