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Common Pathologies

Age Related Macular Degeneration

Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD or AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in America for people over the age of 60. It primarily affects the macula, the portion of the retina that is critical for tasks like reading and watching television. Early in the course of the disease, patients will typically experience blurring or distortion of the center portion of their vision. In later stages, patients may lose the center of their vision entirely. Peripheral vision is typically spared. There are two different types of ARMD: the "dry," non-exudative type and the "wet" exudative type.

"Dry ARMD" occurs when drusen (small yellowish deposits) develop beneath the retina and can be seen in the macula upon retinal examination. These drusen can cause loss of both the retina and the pigmented layer beneath the retina. When this occurs, central vision can be lost. The only known treatment to slow the progression of dry ARMD is the use of certain anti-oxidant vitamin supplements that have been proven beneficial by the Age-Releated Eye Disease Study (AREDS).

"Wet ARMD", also known as exudative ARMD, does not have phases like dry ARMD. Advanced ARMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels and scar tissue begin to grow behind the macula. These blood vessels can leak blood and fluid beneath the macula. This blood and fluid can move the macula away from it's normal postion. This process doesn't cause any pain, but the first symptoms are often a waviness to what would normally be straight lines.

The physicians of Retina Consultants of Austin are constantly evaluating new therapeutics for the treament of both dry and wet ARMD. Please ask any of our doctors or staff to see if a clinical trial is right for you.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in working age Americans. Unfortunately, patients with diabetic retinopathy rarely show symptoms until severe damage to the eye has already occured. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that people diagnosed with diabetes, type 1 or type 2, have their eyes checked at least once a year by a specialist. There are two types of Diabetic retinopathy:

Non-Proliferative Diabetice Retinopathy: This is the first stage of diabetic retinopathy. In this stage, blood vessels in the retina can enlarge or become blocked. Some blood vessels become leaky and they may leak blood, fluid, or proteins into the retina. When the leakage affects the center of the retina, the macula, we call this diabetic macular edema and central vision can become blurry.

Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy: This is considered the advanced form of diabetic retinopathy. At this point, diabetes has caused significant damage to the retina. New, blood vessels have started to grow into the eye, but these new blood vessels are irregular and often very fragile. Some of them break and bleed into the eye causing floaters and considerable loss of vision. If left untreated, scar tissue can begin to develop on the retina and in the vitreous and can lead to retinal detachments.

Both forms of diabetic retinopathy can be treated to help prevent the vision loss. Intravitreal injections of medications into the eye and laser surgery have been shown to be beneficial. We are constantly evaluating new emerging therapeutics for diabetic retinopathy, so please ask any of our doctors or staff to find out if a clinical trial is appropriate for you.

Macular Hole

A Macular Hole can lead to a blurring, distortion, or even a small blind spot in the center of the patient's field of vision. Surgical management with a vitrectomy surgery can successfully close these holes and help restore vision.

Retinal Detachments

Retinal detachments occur when the inner layer of the eye, known as the retina, separates from the layers connected to the back side of the eye. The most common cause of a retinal detachment is a posterior vitreous detachment leading to a retinal tear or hole. Often times this vitreous detachment will pull on the retina causing a small hole or tear through which fluid passes. The fluid works its way back behind the retina and causes a retinal detachment. The first signs and symptoms of a retinal detachment are:

  • Bright flashes of light, especially in peripheral vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Floaters in the eye
  • Shadow or blindness in a part of the visual field of one eye

If you notice any of these symptoms we strongly encourage you to call an make an appointment as soon as possible.

Uveitis or Ocular Inflammatory Diseases

There are several layers that make up the outer wall of the eye (think of it like a round piece of plywood). The Uvea is the middle layer and includes the iris, ciliary body, and the choroid. Uveitis occurs when this inflammation affects this middle layer. The specific type of uveitis you have is related to the area of the uvea that is swollen. However the common symptoms for all types of Uveitis are:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dark, floating spots in the vision
  • Eye pain
  • Redness of the eye
  • Sensitivity to light

About half the time, uveitis can be associated with an infectious or autoimmune disease. Our physicians are trained to treat and help diagnose what may be causing the inflammation.