The retina is an important part of your eye. Responsible for turning light into signals to the brain, a healthy retina is essential for clear vision. The retina is susceptible to many different diseases, making it very important to stay on top of routine eye care. The retina, although quite small, is very intricate.
What is the Retina?
The retina is a small, light-sensitive membrane made up of millions of photoreceptor cells. Located at the back interior of the eye, the retina receives the light that comes in through the cornea. The center portion of the retina is called the macula, which is responsible for central vision.
Much like film in a camera, the retina senses different intensities of light. The retina processes this light into a series of neural signals, which then travel through the optic nerve to the brain. The brain then deciphers these signals and turns them into images. This is how you see!
Common Retinal Conditions
The retina is a very important component of healthy vision. No matter how healthy the rest of the eye is, without the retina, vision can be greatly impaired. Some common retinal diseases and conditions to look out for include:
- Retinal Detachment. A retinal detachment occurs when the retina lifts off the wall of the eye. When the retina is detached, it loses its blood flow. This causes photoreceptor cells to die off. This is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate attention to avoid permanent damage.
- Diabetic Retinopathy. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to this disease. When a patient has diabetic retinopathy, the tiny blood vessels on the retina start to leak fluid and blood. This can cause vision loss.
- Macular Degeneration. This disease occurs as the macula begins to deteriorate. This is largely an age-related disease and can cause vision loss in its later stages.
- Flashes/Floaters. Flashes of light and floating specks in the visual field are a common part of aging. They are not generally a cause for concern, but a sudden increase in flashes and/or floaters can be a symptom of retinal detachment.