The retina is a thin layer of nervous tissue that lines the back of the eyeball. Images are formed on this layer (not unlike images formed on camera film) and converted to electric signals within individual nerve cells. These nerve cells are eventually bundled up as the optic nerves, which in turn, travel to the brain. The space within the eyeball is filled with a gel like substance, called the “vitreous.”
Diseases within this area of the eye are numerous and varied and even a cursory discussion is beyond the scope of this writing, but it helps to review some common problems. Many such diseases start primarily within the vitreous/retina. In addition, diseases affecting the body in general such as diabetes and high blood pressure can have an impact on the retina/vitreous.
Exams to detect diabetic vision damage is another very common reason patients seek treatment at Virginia Vision & Surgery. Diabetes can have a profound effect on blood vessels in general, and in specific, on blood vessels of the retina. This effect on the blood vessel can cause a variety of problems of the vitreous/retina, which are collectively called “Diabetic Retinopathy.” Examples include leakage of fluid within the retina or even formation of new disorganized small vessels prone to hemorrhage. Unfortunately, many patients are unaware of these problems until significant damage has already occurred. It is therefore important that each diabetic patient has a retinal examination at least annually and more often as indicated by the presence of disease in the eye.
If you have diabetes, call to schedule your annual exam. We will create a report to send to both your primary care physician and your endocrinologist. We will perform a comprehensive evaluation including glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataract screening during the same visit. Diabetic eye changes provide vital knowledge to your diabetic doctors and are highly useful in monitoring your diabetes.