When studying science, most of us have learnt that the human eye functions like a camera and the retina acts like a film. The retina is a light sensitive tissue, which reacts to incoming light and sends the image to the brain through the optic nerve. Needless to say, any problem in the retina disrupts the picture and makes it harder for the brain to interpret it. Therefore, it is advisable to get a retinal examination in case you experience black spots, flashes of light or distorted or blurred vision. As this could be a symptom of diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment or a torn retina. Furthermore, a retina consultation with an ophthalmologist can help you determine the root cause of the problem.
DIABETES AND THE RETINA
Diabetes can affect sight by causing cataracts, glaucoma, and most importantly damage the blood vessels inside the eye, a condition known as “Diabetic Retinopathy”. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. When blood vessels in the retina are damaged they may leak blood and grow fragile, brush-like branches and scar the tissue. This can blur or distort the vision. Diabetic eye diseases are a leading cause of blindness worldwide. People with untreated diabetes are said to be 25 times more likely to suffer from blindness than the general population. The longer a person has diabetes, the higher the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
Known as a medical emergency, retinal detachment is separation of the retinal tissue (neural layer) from the layer of blood vessels (that provide it nutrients and oxygen). When the cells are deprived of oxygen, they are unable to compose a clear picture. While the initial detachment could be restricted, if left untreated for a long time, it can cause blindness in the affected eye. Posterior vitreous detachment causes a tear in the retina and allows the fluid or water of the eye to seep under it, which detaches the retina from its supporting layer.
Myopia, better known as short sightedness is a very strong risk factor for retinal detachment.
Retinal detachments are also caused by trauma to the head or eye. According to the statistics, these are frequent in the elderly and middle aged people.
Retinoblastoma is retina cancer which rapidly develops in the retina cells. Generally, it affects kids below 6 and could be heritable or non-heritable. In some cases it occurs in only one eye and is referred to as unilateral retinoblastoma; if both the eyes are affected, it is called bilateral retinoblastoma and in several cases when it affects the pineal gland as well, it is called trilateral retinoblastoma. Retinoblastoma is the most common type of cancer, which affects kids. But it also responds to timely treatment and has one of the best cure rates.
Doctors warn the parents to look for signs like white spots on the pupil, redness and pain. Parents with cross eyed kids, should get regular check-ups. A delay in treatment could lead to blindness, tumours that could spread to the lungs, brains and bones. If the tumour spreads outside the eye, then finding a cure, might prove to be difficult.