The retina constitutes the innermost layer and is made up of nervous tissue, about 0.4 mm thick. The function 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. Playing a very important role visually, just a single small damage to the retina can cause a significant vision impairment, even permanent blindness.
Retinal detachment are common diseases of the retina, which often occur quietly without you being able to notice it and it can happen in anyone, at any age. Those diseases can happen without any symptoms or with unclear symptoms at first, but develop very fast and may cause complete loss of vision. To detect retinal detachment, routine ophthalmic examination or regular health examination are not enough. Therefore, retinal degeneration screening test is necessary, especially for those with high risk of retinal detachment, to early detect the diseases and grasp the golden time for treatment.
1. Those at high risk should carry out early screening and regular examination:
- Those with high myopia (at least 6 diopters): People with high myopia have longer eyes (axial elongation), which means that the retina is more stretched and therefore prone to peripheral retinal tears. If not detected and treated early enough, degenerative nerve cells will lose their adhesion and cause a more serious complication which is known as retinal tear.
- Those with posterior vitreous degeneration or detachment are more likely to have early retinal tear or detachment because the vitreous gel has been emulsified (liquidized) and cannot fill the whole volume of the eye’s vitreous cavity and so the gel separates from the retina. As the result, it makes the remaining adhesive points of the vitreous humor with fundus are no longer stable, making the retina more susceptible to eye movement, and resulting in inevitable retinal tear and detachment in long run.
- Those with a habit of rubbing their eyes (from about 40 years old): As we age, the vitreous humor and retina has gradually degenerated. Effects such as rubbing eyes, more or less cause a shake in the vitreous humor and retina. In a long run, this habit will increase the risk of retinal tear and detachment, especially in people with retinal diseases.
2. Those at risk should carry out regulation examination
- Patients of at least 16 years old. Those who can coordinate with their doctor in their examination steps
- Patients after a cataract surgery. Because before the surgery, the cloudy lens could obstructed the retinal examination progress.
- Patients with myopia
At the Japan International Eye Hospital, in case you need a retinal degeneration screening, your will go through the preliminary examination steps with an experienced ophthalmologist and fully supported machines as follow:
Step 1: Your doctor will apply eye dilation drops to both eyes.
Step 2: Your doctor will then put the contact lenses in your eyes and test your retina using a slit lamp.
Step 3: Your doctor will evaluate your retinal degeneration conditions (if any), give you consultation and treatment recommendations.
In case of any retinal abnormality detected through examination, the doctor shall recommend the appropriate treatment as follow:
For those with peripheral retinal degeneration:
- In case of mild retinal degeneration, you will need to have regular examination in every 3 – 6 months to monitor its progression and get treatment when necessary.
- In case of more severe retinal degeneration, too thin retina which is at risk of tearing off at any time, you will need to carry out a laser therapy to seal their retina and make it more secured, limiting retinal tear and detachment.
For those with retinal tear or detachment:
- In case of mild condition: your doctor will require a treatment with retinal laser photocoagulation on the same day of testing to seal the tear, as a long un-treatment may make the tear expand, causing a total retinal detachment and complete loss of vision.
- In case of severe retinal detachment affecting your vision: your doctor will appoint a vitrectomy surgery.
Note: The retinal laser photocoagulation for degenerative or torn retina uses laser light to seal or destroy the abnormal structures on the retina (cause intentionally scarring) to prevent them from expanding which result in partial or total retinal detachment. Similarly, a vitrectomy for retinal detachment treatment aims to force the detached retina back to its original position to prevent it from completely detaching. As the degenerative, torn or detached retinal parts cannot have their original visual functions restored, the post-operative vision depends on the disease condition upon its treatment. The cloudy vitreous floaters or flash in the eye which occur before the surgery/procedure may still exist after that.
As recommended by ophthalmologists, the patients in general and those at high risk of retinal tear and detachment should have their retina examined every 3 – 6 months to early detect the signs of retina degeneration for prompt treatment. As it starts with no or unclear symptoms, an examination will help the patients stay more secured as well as not to miss the golden time for treatment. In addition, the patients should also note the following to further protect their eyes:
- For those with myopia, it is necessary to wear suitable glasses of correct lens power to limit early retinal degeneration.
- Pay attention to how to use your eyes scientifically to get them adequately rested.
- Add natural nutrients good for your eyes to your daily diet.