Let Us See Those Retinas! Why Your Eye Doctor Recommends Retinal Exams.

By Eye Institute of Houston
October 15, 2020

Many people assume that their general eye exams will involve looking at letters on a board and having a doctor shine a light in front of their eyes. This is part of the process but only the beginning. The purpose of vision exams is to see if you need glasses or a change in prescription. The purpose of an ophthalmology eye exam is to evaluate the overall health of your eyes. There are several vital structures involved in the making of vision. One of them is the retina.

The retina is a small piece of tissue that transfers light to the brain via the optic nerve. It is an area that can be damaged by rays of light like the blue light emitted by digital devices. It can also be damaged by disease. For these reasons, it is necessary to have a doctor examine this part of the eye every so often.

Some of the diseases that may be diagnosed and monitored with retinal imaging include:

  • Glaucoma. This condition can lead to irreversible, permanent vision loss. It happens when pressure inside the eye builds up and presses on the optic nerve.
  • Retinal detachment. The retina can pull away from the back wall of the eye, tearing or fully detaching. This event could lead to permanent vision loss.
  • Diabetic retinopathy. A complication of dysregulated blood sugar, diabetic retinopathy involves changes in the blood vessels of the retina. The vessels may leak or swell. In advanced stages, new, weak blood vessels form on the retina. Without proper treatment, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness.
  • Age-related macular degeneration. The macula is a small area at the center of the retina. Here, fluid or blood may leak into the back of the eye, causing the loss of central vision.
  • Cancer. We usually think of melanoma as something that happens on the skin. Though somewhat rare, this disease can develop within the retina, where it would go unnoticed except through a retinal exam. Melanoma can be treated successfully when caught early. It is detected as a dark spot at the back of the eye.

In addition to detecting potentially serious eye conditions, retinal exams are also an effective method of recording general eye health. Imaging can be reviewed from one exam to the next to observe if any changes have occurred over time.

We are proud to perform Optomap retinal exams in our Houston area office. This screening does not require dilation and is fast and gentle enough even for children. To schedule a comprehensive eye exam with us, call (713) 668-7337.

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