What is a Retina Specialist?
Retina specialists are highly skilled physicians and surgeons committed to helping people with retinal conditions preserve and improve their vision so they can see for a lifetime.
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 are highly trained. They must complete medical school and specialized training in ophthalmology, as well as vitreoretinal training. This includes:
- Medical school - 4 years
- Internship - 1 year
- Opthalmology residency - 3 years
- Retina-Vitreous fellowship - 1 or 2 years
The retina is a thin layer of light-sensitive nerve tissue that lines the back of the eye cavity.
When light enters the eye, it passes through the iris to the retina where images are focused and are converted into electrical impulses that travel through the optic nerve to the brain resulting in sight.
What does a retina specialist do?
Retina specialists diagnose retinal diseases using highly technical equipment and testing. They work in both hospitals and clinics treating a wide variety of eye conditions in both adults and children.
Medical and surgical procedures used by retina specialists are extremely sophisticated, including delicate surgeries on tissue thinner than a butterfly’s wing.
Retina specialists treat conditions ranging from age-related macular degeneration and retinal detachment to cancers of the eye. They also treat patients who have experienced severe eye trauma as well as children and adults with hereditary diseases of the eye.
Common conditions and diseases retina specialists treat:
What can I expect during a visit with a retina specialist?
A visit with your retina specialist may last longer than a typical medical visit. To be safe, plan to be at the clinic for about two to three hours.
If it’s your first visit, you’ll be asked about your complete medical history and also about any medications you may be taking.
Next, your eyes will be dilated so the retina specialist can take a very close look at the back of your eye to check for any problems. Additional tests may be performed and images may be taken to track the progress of any conditions you may have. You may also receive treatments including eye injections during this time. Because your pupils were dilated and stay that way for several hours, it’s a good idea to have a friend or loved one accompany you to your appointment and drive you home when it’s complete.