The retina is a layer of cells that lines the back wall of the eyes and is responsible for detecting light, similar to the film in a camera. Many different diseases can affect the retina and result in vision loss. Common diseases affecting the retina include diabetes, hypertension, sickle cell disease, retinal vein or artery occlusion, age related macular degeneration, epiretinal membrane, macular hole, and retinal tears. Importantly, vision loss from retinal disease cannot be significantly improved with glasses or contact lenses, and requires different treatments for improvement.
Certain conditions require regular retinal exams to screen for early changes and prevent irreversible vision loss. Common screening exams include diabetic eye exams and screening for retinal toxicity for patients on hydroxychloroquine.
Common symptoms of retinal conditions include flashes of light in your vision, floaters, distortions, and sudden vision loss. Any of these symptoms warrant a prompt examination by an ophthalmologist. A clinic visit for a medical retina condition involves a comprehensive eye exam including a dilated eye exam. Specialized imaging or laboratory tests may be required to aid diagnosis and treatment. Treatment for retinal disease varies and often depends on the underlying cause. Medical retina treatment options include medicated eye drops, injections in or around the eye, and/or laser therapy, all with the goal of preserving or improving a patient’s vision.
Uveitis refers to inflammation within the eye and can be caused by many different conditions, including infections, autoimmune disease involving other organs, and autoimmune disease confined to the eye. Autoimmune disease refers to when the body’s own immune system begins to attack normal tissue or organs within the body. Uveitis can affect multiple structures within the eye and can present with a variety of symptoms, including but not limited to vision loss, ocular pain, light sensitivity, redness, tearing, flashes, and floaters. It can affect one or both eyes and range in duration from a single episode to a chronic condition requiring long term therapy. Importantly, if left untreated uveitis can result in permanent vision loss. Hence any diagnosis of uveitis should warrant prompt examination by an ophthalmologist.
A clinic visit for uveitis requires a comprehensive history and eye exam including a dilated eye exam. Further specialized imaging or laboratory testing is sometimes required to determine the cause of the uveitis and guide treatment. Treatment for uveitis can range from medicated eye drops such as topical steroid eye drops to injections in/around the eye, pills taken by mouth or injections that suppress the immune system in order to protect the eye’s structures and preserve vision. In the case of an infection, medications such as antibiotics, antivirals or injections of medication into the eye may be required to preserve vision.
Under the expert care of Dr. Sunil Bellurl, a board certified and fellowship trained medical retina and uveitis specialist, our practice is able to diagnose and treat any retinal inflammatory disease.
If you are experiencing changes consistent with uveitis or were diagnosed with uveitis, please visit us at the Washington Eye Institute for a full exam and consultation.