A Retina Specialist
An ophthalmologist who has additional training in the diagnosis and management of diseases of the retina and vitreous is called a retina specialist. Your retina, which is comprised of nerves for your eye, acts as a central point for your vision, as it senses light and transfers impulses to your brain. One of the most common retina conditions is age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which causes vision loss among people 50 and older as a result of damage to the center retina, or macula. AMD severity can vary among stages based on the size and number of yellow retina deposits known as drusen, with the latest such stage being late AMD.
Neovascular AMD or wet AMD, a form of late AMD, is characterized by unusual blood vessel growth near the retina and can cause sudden and severe damage to one or both eyes, including leaking fluid and blood and macular swelling. If you have wet AMD, it is important to see a retina specialist for the most appropriate and customized care.
How will my retina specialist detect and monitor my condition?
A doctor will perform one or more of the following tests on your eyesight:
- Eye Chart
Eye ChartEye charts such as the Snellen eye chart measure how well each eye can see fine detail (visual acuity). The further down you can see on the eye chart (the smaller letters), the better your vision.
- Dilated Eye Exam
In this exam, drops are placed in your eyes and your eye doctor, using a special lens, looks at the back of your eye for damage. This test is necessary to diagnose wet AMD.
A tonometry test measures the pressure inside your eye. During this test, your eye is numbed, and then a small sensor is placed on the surface of your eye.
- Dye Test
Fluorescein angiography (FA) is a test for examining blood vessels in the retina, choroid, and iris. A specials dye is injected into a vein in the arm and pictures are taken as the dye passes through blood vessels in the eye.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a test that uses light waves to make a picture of your retina, allowing your eye doctor to see any abnormal blood vessel growth.
What are the treatment options?
With early diagnosis and proper treatment, the progression of AMD may be delayed. However, for some people, damage caused by AMD can’t be reversed. Your retina specialist will determine the course of treatment that is best for you.
Available treatments include:
- Eye Injections
Eye InjectionsThese are commonly called intravitreal injections. Your eye will be numbed prior to the injection (you may feel some pressure when receiving the injection). These injections target the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eye that cause wet AMD.
- Hot Laser Treatment
Hot Laser TreatmentA hot laser is beamed into the eye to treat the abnormal blood vessels.
- Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
A combination of a light-sensitive drug injected into the vein and a cold laser into the eye to “shut off” abnormal blood vessels is called photodynamic therapy (PDT).
- Preventative Measures
Studies have shown that daily supplements such as vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene, zinc and copper may reduce some risks of developing severe AMD. Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.
Only your retina specialist knows which treatment is right for you. It is important to remember that AMD is a chronic condition and you should continue to monitor your vision and see your eye doctor as recommended.
Due to the specialized nature of these conditions, it is critical to work with an experienced retina specialist in order to receive the most comprehensive care. That’s why Cedar Valley Eye Care is proud to offer the area’s only full-time retina surgeon, Dr. Brendan Girschek! Dr. Girschek is board-certified and fellowship-trained and has performed thousands of procedures and hundreds of after-hours retina and emergency surgeries. As a leader in the treatment of retina conditions, Dr. Girschek treats retina conditions that can impact his patients’ long-term sight and impair their quality of life. To learn more about our retina care services, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Girschek, please contact us today.