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What to Know About Retinal Disorders

August 8, 2023

Like a camera, the eye is a complex structure that is made up of many parts. The retina, the part at the back of the eye where the “film develops”, can be affected by many conditions that can permanently damage your vision. Individuals who suspect that they may have retinal problems should seek immediate medical attention, as it can lead to permanent loss of vision. Read on to learn more about possible retinal disorders and when you seek medical care.

What is the Retina?

The retina is a layer located at the back of the eye that translates light into electrical signals. These signals travel to your brain to allow you to see the world around you. It is a vital part of your vision, which is why it is important that your retina is healthy.

Common Retinal Disorders

There is an array of retinal disorders that may affect your eye and/or vision. They often share a number of similar symptoms, including seeing flashes of light, changes in vision, blurry vision, a sudden appearance of floaters, a sudden loss of peripheral or total vision, and difficulty seeing at night. Some of the most common retinal disorders include the following.


Damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye can lead to leaking fluid, a condition called retinopathy. This excess fluid can affect the retina and lead to changes in vision. A common complication of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy.

Retinal Tear

A retinal tear occurs when the retina is torn. This usually happens when vitreous (a jelly-like material in the eye) attaches to the retina and tugs it enough to tear it. This can occur as part of the natural aging process or due to trauma. Prompt treatment is needed for a retinal tear, as it can result in retinal detachment.

Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment happens when a collection of fluid causes the retina to separate from the layer of the eye that provides it with blood. This means that the retina is no longer receiving the oxygen and nutrients that it needs, which can lead to permanent loss of vision.

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is most common among older adults, which is why it is sometimes called age-related macular degeneration (AMD). With AMD, the macula weakens and causes distorted central vision, which may degrade over time and even lead to permanent vision loss.


Retinitis is the inflammation of the retina. It is commonly caused by viruses and bacteria such as Lyme disease, lupus, syphilis, and more.

Epiretinal Membranes

Epiretinal membranes (ERMs), also known as macular puckers, make up a thin layer that forms on the inner surface of the retina. It is usually made up of scar tissue following an injury or medical condition. While ERMs do not usually cause symptoms, they can affect the center of the retina, which can cause distortion of central vision.

Macular Edema

Macular edema occurs due to fluid building in the macula, causing it to swell. Many conditions can cause this condition, including AMD, diabetes, and retinal vein occlusion.


Retinoblastoma, or cancer of the retina, is a common form of eye cancer in infants and young children. A regular symptom of this cancer is a lack of red reflex in the pupil when the child is having a photo taken.

Retinal Vein Occlusion

Also called eye stroke, retinal vein occlusion is a blood vessel disorder where sections of the retinal vein become blocked, causing blood and fluid to spill into the retina. This blockage cuts off circulation, which can lead to vision loss.

Schedule a Consultation

If you are experiencing symptoms associated with retinal problems, or are seeking professional retinal treatment, contact Anh Nguyen Ophthalmology in Falls Church, VA today.

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