The retina is a thin layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye on the inside. It is located near the optic nerve. The purpose of the retina is to receive light that the lens has focused, convert the light into neural signals, and send these signals on to the brain for visual recognition.
The retina processes light through a layer of photoreceptor cells. These are essentially light-sensitive cells, responsible for detecting qualities such as color and light-intensity. The retina processes the information gathered by the photoreceptor cells and sends this information to the brain via the optic nerve. Basically, the retina processes a picture from the focused light, and the brain is left to decide what the picture is.
Layers of Retina
- The Retina Can Be Divided Into 10 Layers Including
- The Inner Limiting Membrane (Ilm);
- The Nerve Fiber Layer (Nfl);
- The Ganglion Cell Layer (Gcl);
- The Inner Plexiform Layer (Ipl);
- The Inner Nuclear Layer (Inl);
- The Outer Plexiform Layer (Opl);
- The Outer Nuclear Layer (Onl);
- The Outer Limiting Membrane (Olm);
- The Photoreceptor Layer (Pl), And
- The Retinal Pigmented Epithelium (Rpe) Monolayer.
Retinal Related Eye Diseases
The retina is a crucial part of the eye, as it allows communication between the eye and the brain. So, if the retina is damaged in any way, it inhibits our ability to see. In some cases, it may make a person blind. Some eye diseases and conditions relating to damage of the retina include:
- Retinal detachment occurs when the retina moves from its proper place, hence the term retinal detachment. It is an eye emergency, and immediate treatment is necessary or else permanent vision loss could result.
- Macular degeneration occurs when the center portion of the retina referred to as the macula is affected.
- Diabetic retinopathy can occur in those who have type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The light-sensitive cells in the retina are affected, which can cause blindness.
There are several types of retinopathy, including:
- Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)
- Diabetic retinopathy
- In no proliferative retinopathy, blood vessels in the retina
- In proliferative retinopathy, new, structurally unstable blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when changes in blood glucose levels cause changes in retinal blood vessels. In some cases, these vessels will swell up (macular oedema) and leak fluid into the rear of the eye. In other cases, abnormal blood vessels will grow on the surface of the retina.
Unless treated, diabetic retinopathy can gradually become more serious and progress from ‘background retinopathy’ to seriously affecting vision and can lead to blindness. Diabetic retinopathy includes 3 different types:
- Background retinopathy
- Diabetic maculopathy
- Proliferative retinopathy
Symptoms & Causes of diabetic retinopathy?
Like many conditions of this nature, the early stages of diabetic retinopathy may occur without symptoms and without pain. An actual influence on the vision will not occur until the disease advances.
Macular oedema can result from maculopathy and affect vision occurs if leaking fluid causes the macular to swell. New vessels on the retina can prompt bleeding, which can also block vision in some cases.
Symptoms may only become noticeable once the disease advances, but the typical symptoms of retinopathy to look out for include:
- Sudden changes in vision / blurred vision
- Eye floaters and spots
- Double vision
- Eye pain
Diabetic retinopathy is caused by prolonged high blood glucose levels. Over time, high sugar glucose levels can weaken and damage the small blood vessels within the retina. This may cause haemorrhages, exudates and even swelling of the retina. This then starves the retina of oxygen, and abnormal vessels may grow. Good blood glucose control helps to lower diabetes retinopathy risks.
Ways to prevent Diabetic Retinopathy
Long-term good blood glucose level management helps to prevent diabetes retinopathy and lower the risk of developing it. Heart disease risk factors also affect retinopathy risk and include stopping smoking, having regular blood pressure and cholesterol checks and undergoing regular eye check-ups.
The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy can be lessened through taking the following precautions:
- Taking a dilated eye examination once a year
- Managing diabetes strictly through medicine, insulin, diet and exercise
- Test blood sugar levels regularly
- Test urine for ketone levels regularly
Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy
Laser surgery is often used in the treatment of diabetic eye disease, but each stage of diabetic retinopathy can be treated in a different way.
Background retinopathy has no treatment but patients will need regular eye examinations.
Maculopathy is usually treated with laser treatment (tiny burns that help to prevent new blood vessel growth and improve the nutrient and oxygen supply to the retina).
How to take care of your Retina
Taking care of the eyes is something most of us tend to neglect. However, maintaining a good eye health is important to keep the risk of developing eye disorders at bay. Retina is one of the crucial parts of the eye, and it’s important to take proper care if it. Some of the essential tips to take care of your retina are listed below