The retina is a thin sheet of nerve tissue that lines the inside of the eye. It’s key for sending signals to the brain that allow us to see.
Below are some common retinal conditions and how to treat them.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common condition that affects the middle part of your vision (not the peripheral). It can appear in one eye or both, and the first symptoms often include blurriness or distortion in the central area of your vision.
AMD usually begins to affect people in their 50s and 60s. While it doesn’t cause complete blindness, it can make everyday activities like reading and driving tricky.
The exact cause of AMD is currently unknown, though it’s been linked to smoking, high blood pressure, being overweight, and having a family history of AMD. Without getting treatment for AMD, vision can get worse, so it’s best to try and catch it early. Treatments for AMD include eye injections and light therapy.
You can find more information about AMD, including its symptoms, getting diagnosed, treatments, and living with the condition on the NHS website. And you can search for your local opticians to book an eye test here.
Retinal detachment usually occurs when the retina has been weakened by a hole or tear. This allows fluid to collect under the retina, which weakens its attachment. However, it can also be caused by short-sightedness, eye operations (such as cataracts), and having a family history of retinal detachment.
Symptoms of a detached retina include blurred or dimmed vision, a sudden increase in dots or lines (floaters and flashes), and having a dark shadow moving across your vision.
If you’re suffering from these symptoms, it’s best to call NHS 111 because, if left untreated, detached retinas can permanently affect your vision. They’ll be able to advise you on whether you need to see someone, or what to do next.
Early treatments for retinal detachment include laser or freezing treatment. Sometimes, an operation under local anaesthetic may be needed to repair the hole and reattach the retina.
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that people living with diabetes are at higher risk of developing.
This is because, if blood sugar levels and blood pressure are consistently high, they can damage your blood vessels. And with many important blood vessels in your eyes, this can affect the retina’s ability to work properly, causing vision issues. If left untreated for too long, diabetic retinopathy can cause complete sight loss.
Luckily, there are things you can do to protect yourself against developing diabetic retinopathy. This includes maintaining blood pressure and sugar levels, making healthy lifestyle choices, spotting changes in your eyesight, and getting your eyes tested.
Everyone over 12 years old living with diabetes in the UK is entitled to an NHS eye screening test once a year. You can find out more about diabetic eye screening and how to book your test now on the NHS website.
The Diabetes UK website also has further information about diabetic retinopathy’s different stages, causes, and treatments.