General eye exams are commonly maintained to help people know how well they see with or without prescription lenses. These exams are often limited to reading letters on a board located across the room. While it is necessary to have vision evaluated periodically, this is only the beginning of truly understanding how healthy the eyes are now and how healthy they may be in the future. To do this, it is necessary to observe all parts of the eye, including the retina. Here, we discuss why.
What is the retina and why is it important?
The retina is a small structure that is attached to the back wall of the eye. It connects to the optic nerve, delivering signals of light to the brain so images can be formed there. This small piece of tissue is critical to long-term vision. It is affected by blue light from digital devices, sunlight, and general health. If the retina is damaged, vision loss may occur. This is why regular comprehensive eye exams should be done.
Retinal health can be affected in several ways. Some of the conditions that may develop in this part of the eye include:
- Diabetic retinopathy. This complication of diabetes occurs because the tiny blood vessels in the eye become weak. Swollen blood vessels can leak fluid and blood into the retinal tissue and surrounding area. Advanced diabetic retinopathy involves the growth of new blood vessels, which are also very weak.
- One of the leading causes of blindness, glaucoma occurs when the pressure in the eye builds and presses on the optic nerve. This pressure can cause irreparable damage.
- Age-related macular degeneration. The macula sits at the center of the retina. This small piece of tissue can degrade with age, leading to the loss of central vision.
- Retinal detachment. The attachment between the retina and the back wall of the eye can get compromised, causing a partial or full pulling away that could result in vision loss if not treated right away.
The purpose of knowing how the retina can sustain damage is not to be frightened about these conditions developing. An ophthalmologist helps patients understand their eye health and risk for these diseases so they can be decreased with knowledge, preventative habits, and proper care. To schedule your eye exam at our Winchester, VA office, call 540.722.6200.