What is a Retina Specialist?

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A retina specialist is a medical doctor who has specialized in ophthalmology and sub-specialized in diseases and surgery of the vitreous body of the eye and the retina. This subspecialty is sometimes known as vitreoretinal medicine.

Retina specialists work in hospitals and clinics and treat a wide variety of eye conditions and diseases in both adults and children. 

Retina specialists are highly trained.  They must complete medical school and specialized training as an ophthalmologist, and then pursue additional vitreoretinal training. The full breadth of training for a retina specialist includes:

  • Medical school - 4 years
  • Internship - 1 year
  • Ophthalmology residency - 3 years
  • Retina-Vitreous fellowship - 1 or 2 years

What does a retina specialist do?

A retina specialist is a highly trained subspecialist with special skills to diagnose and treat specific parts of the complex human visual system. A diagnosis of retina and vitreous disease should prompt a thorough examination that may require highly technical equipment and testing.

The retina is a light-sensitive area in the back of the eye that includes the macula, which is made up of light-sensitive cells that provide us with sharp, detailed vision. In a healthy eye, images are focused onto the retina and then converted into electrical signals that are sent to the brain for processing. The vitreous body of the eye is a clear gel that fills the space between the retina and the lens.  The retina, the macula, and the vitreous body can all be subject to disease and conditions that  can lead to blindness or vision interruption and may require the attention of a retina specialist.

The medical treatments and surgical procedures used by retina specialists are extremely exacting and delicate. Most retinal surgeries require a microscope and are therefore called microsurgical procedures. Retina-vitreous surgeons work on extremely delicate tissues in an incredibly small space. The laser is a vital medical tool used by retina specialist for procedures in both office and hospital settings. 

Retina specialists treat a variety of conditions, ranging from age-related macular degeneration to retinal detachment and cancers of the eye. A retina specialist may also treat a patient who has experienced severe eye trauma, and may be consulted in the case of patients dealing with hereditary diseases of the eye.

Some of the surgeries retina specialists perform are:

  • Retinal detachment surgery
  • Diabetic vitrectomy
  • Macular pucker vitrectomy
  • Macular hole vitrectomy
  • Macular translocation
  • Repair of ruptured globe

Conditions & diseases treated by retina specialists