Retina Health Information and Fact Sheets
Did you know that your clear view of the world, the one that allows you to read, drive and recognize faces, relies on the health of your retinas?
So, what is the retina and how does it help us see?
How We See
Think of your eye as a camera. Light enters through the cornea and is controlled by the iris and pupil, which function like a camera shutter, opening (dilating) and closing to allow more light in dark conditions and less light in bright conditions.
This focused light is directed onto the retina, a thin layer of light-sensitive nerve tissue that lines the back of the eye, like film in a camera. Images are focused at its center (known as the macula) and converted into electrical impulses that are carried to the brain by the optic nerve, where they are translated into sight!
Maintaining Retina Health for Good Vision
Retinal disease is a leading cause of blindness and early detection is the game changer.
Here’s how to safeguard your sight:
- Be aware of your risk factors, which may include age, family history or pre-existing health conditions.
- Pay attention to visual changes and visit an eye physician right away if experience symptoms such as blurry or distorted vision, if straight lines appear wavy, or you see dark spot, flashes of light or floaters.
- Have an annual dilated retina exam.
- See a retina specialist for expert care of retinal diseases/conditions.
Use our Find a Retina Specialist tool to find a retina specialist near you.
Have an appointment with a retina specialist soon? Download and print this detailed patient discussion guide, including questions you may want to ask your retina specialist to better understand and care for your retinal condition.
What is a Retina Specialist?
A retina specialist is a board-certified ophthalmologist with advanced training in the treatment of vitreoretinal diseases. These experts have access to highly innovative treatments to manage conditions that were once blinding, including age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy (click to learn more). The future is bright for retina patients because there are many revolutionary treatments on the horizon.
What to Expect During a Dilated Eye Exam
Regular dilated retina exams by an ophthalmologist are important, especially for those at higher risk for retinal diseases like diabetic retinopahty and age-related macular degeneration.
During a comprehensive eye exam, your eye physician will use eye drops to make your pupils dilate (open widely) to allow a better view of the inside of your eye, especially your retinal tissue. Light sensitivity related to dilation will reverse after a few hours, but sunglasses may be needed in the interim.
In addition to a complete examination of your retina and vitreous cavity, your physician will also evaluate the front part of your eyes to assess your vision (need for corrective lenses), eye pressure (looking for signs of glaucoma), eyelids and cornea (looking for dry eye) and lens (looking for signs of cataracts). If a retinal condition is detected, see a retina specialist.
Learn About Retinal Diseases and Conditions
The Retina Health Series, from the ASRS Foundation, offers condition-specific webpages and printable facts sheets on an array of retinal conditions. Select from the title listing on the right for condition details, including:
- Symptoms and risk factors
- Diagnostic testing
- Treatment and prognoses
Note for members: ASRS members can order quantities for distribution to patients by visiting our marketplace and purchasing them at cost. There is also an option to customize fact sheets with practice contact information.
The Foundation’s "Got AMD?" public awareness posters shine a spotlight on age-related macular degeneration, one of the most common retinal diseases, impacting 11 million people a year. Click here to learn more about AMD.
This eye-catching 2-poster set simulates the distorted vision experienced by someone living with AMD and encourages people to get an examination or seek treatment.
ASRS has shared the posters with hundreds of member practices, senior citizens facilities, low-vision rehabilitation clinics, community health centers, and Veterans Administration facilities across the country—all by request!