Problems with the Retina

January 15, 2021

The retina is the layer at the back of the eye containing cells that are sensitive to light. These cells receive the light coming into the lens of the eye and nerve impulses then send that information to the brain via the optic nerve. The brain then interprets that information and forms the visual images that make up your vision.

Different eye problems can affect the retina. We diagnose and treat these problems with the retina at Millennium Park Eye Center.

Macular Degeneration

At Millennium Park, we regularly treat age-related macular degeneration. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people 50 and older in the industrialized world. It is caused by the loss of retinal photoreceptor cells in the center of the retina, the macula. This is the area of our eyes where our vision is the sharpest.

There are two forms of macular degeneration. The first is dry macular degeneration. This most common form of macular degeneration begins with small areas of vision damage in the macula. It progresses slowly and most patients retain some vision in at least one eye.

The second form of age-related macular degeneration, known as wet macular degeneration, occurs when abnormal blood vessels form underneath the retina. These blood vessels bleed and leak fluid causing significant vision loss. Eventually a scar forms under the macula and central vision is lost.

  • Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in working-aged adults in the U.S. It occurs in two ways: non-proliferative and proliferative retinopathy. In non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels of the retina bleed or leak fluid. This leads to swelling of the retina, small hemorrhages, and the formation of deposits on the retina. Proliferative retinopathy is more severe. It occurs when the blood vessels in the retina or the optic nerve become blocked, starving the retina of necessary nutrients. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy can lead to vitreous hemorrhage, where profuse bleeding into the eye blocks vision; retinal detachment, where scar tissue pulls the retina, causing it to tear or detach; and neovascular glaucoma, where the abnormal blood vessels block drainage of fluid from the eye, raising pressure within the eye.

  • Retinal Detachments and Tears

Retinal tears occur when the vitreous pulls away from the retina. Liquid that passes through the tear and settles under the retina can make the retina separate from the back wall of the eye. This is retinal detachment.

  • Macular Holes

As we age, the gel-like material in the middle of the eye, the vitreous, shrinks and begins to pull away from the retina. In most people this is simply a part of aging and there are no consequences to vision. In a small number of people, however, the vitreous pulls on the retina to such a degree that it creates a hole. This hole is usually in the center of the macula and causes blurring and vision distortion.

If you’re having any symptoms related to the above conditions, please call us immediately at Millennium Park Eye Center, (312) 996-2020.


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