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Retina Care

Hawaii Vision Specialists

Ophthalmology & Optometry located in Hilo, HI

Proper retina care is crucial if you suffer from a condition like age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, or retinal vein occlusion. At Hawaii Vision Specialists in Hilo, Hawaii, the expert vision care team provides retina care of all types, from retina laser treatment to retina injections. Call Hawaii Vision Specialists today to arrange a retina care consultation.

Retina Care Q & A

What types of retina conditions cause vision problems?

Your retina is the area of the eye that focuses light so you can interpret images accurately. Common retina conditions like macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and retinal vein occlusion can all cause serious vision problems if left untreated.

Macular degeneration

Macular degeneration, which is a condition that typically occurs as you age, involves the deterioration of the center portion of your retina. The center of your retina, the macula, is the most sensitive part of your retina. It records the images you see and sends the information to your brain via the optic nerve.

The macula controls the central focus of your vision and influences your ability to: 

  • Read and watch TV
  • Drive a car
  • See fine details in faces
  • Interpret different colors
  • Focus on your computer screen

Vision problems from macular degeneration usually develop gradually in both eyes, so you may not notice a problem until you begin having difficulty focusing on objects or reading in a dimly lit setting.

Diabetic retinopathy

The retina is the light-sensitive part of your eye that sends messages to your brain to interpret what you see. When you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, diabetic retinopathy can develop as a side effect. Diabetes can cause the blood vessels in your retina to become damaged, and it can eventually lead to vision loss if left untreated.

People with diabetes are more susceptible to developing diabetic retinopathy as they get older. If you are able to keep your blood sugar levels at a manageable level, it can help prevent the onset of diabetic retinopathy.

Retinal vein occlusion

A retinal vein occlusion is a blocked vein or artery in your retina that prevents its ability to drain blood from the affected vein. When this happens, blood and fluid leak from the blocked blood vessels into your eye. Just like a blood clot in your brain, a tiny blood clot in your eye prevents the area from receiving oxygen and nutrients, which leads to damage.

There are two types of retinal vein occlusions: central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO) and branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO). With CRVO, a blockage occurs in the main retinal vein, while with BRVO, the blockage happens in a smaller vein.

How are retina conditions detected?

Regular eye exams are the best way to prevent retina diseases from occurring, but if they do, the team at Hawaii Vision Specialists are experts at detecting changes in your eyes and providing an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor thoroughly examines the health of your eyes and can detect early signs of age-related or health-related retina conditions.

Since macular degeneration is related to the pressure in your eye, your doctor conducts a specific test to determine if your eye pressure is within a healthy range. If your pressure is high, the team monitors your eye and vision for any changes so they can recommend treatment as necessary to manage pressure and prevent the onset of macular degeneration.

What treatments are available for retina conditions?

State-of-the-art treatment options are available at Hawaii Vision Specialists for comprehensive care for retina conditions, including macular degeneration, retinal vein occlusion, and diabetic retinopathy. Depending on your condition, your doctor may suggest any of the following:

  • Laser surgeries
  • Retina injections
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Medications

The expert vision care team tailors a treatment plan for your specific conditions so you receive complete retina care to minimize or prevent vision loss.

Laser retina surgery

Laser retina surgery can treat a variety of retina problems, such as diabetic retinopathy, retinal vein occlusion, and retinal tears.

For example, if you have a retinal tear, your doctor can use the laser to create tiny burns in the area surrounding your torn retina. Your body responds by forming scar tissue in that area, and the scar tissue will help anchor your retina in place to avoid retinal detachment.

In the case of diabetic retinopathy, laser surgery can stop blood vessel leakage to prevent further vision damage. Additionally, if you suffer from retinal vein occlusion, your doctor may recommend a vitrectomy to remove part or all of the vitreous tissue in your eye.

Retina injections

Eylea® and Lucentis® are FDA-approved drugs that are injected into the eye to treat wet age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and retinal vein occlusion. Both drugs stop uncontrolled blood vessel growth in your eyes by eliminating the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) that triggers the growth.

Because this type of abnormal blood vessel production is the cause of vision loss in wet age-related macular degeneration, either Eylea or Lucentis can be an excellent solution for preserving your vision.

Lucentis was FDA-approved to treat wet age-related macular degeneration in 2007, and Eylea followed in 2013. The two drugs are very much alike, with both eliminating VEGF from your eyes. The main difference is that Eylea eliminates an additional inner-eye substance — placental growth factor — a protein that contributes to the grown of new blood vessels.

Your doctor discusses the benefits of each drug with you. The injection process takes just seconds, and the thin needle, combined with an anesthetic, makes the injection virtually pain-free. You may need regular injections to keep wet age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and vein occlusion from progressing.

To learn more about any of these conditions, call Hawaii Vision Specialists today to schedule a complete retina care consultation.