Retinal Diagnostics & Treatment
Our ability to see is all thanks to the remarkable retina, making it imperative that any disorders, conditions, illnesses, or injuries, be identified at the earliest opportunity. Detecting any indications of retinal damage or disruptions is crucial for addressing a wide variety of concerns, ranging from mild irritation to permanent vision loss. Due to the size, function, and location of the retina, a diverse range of advanced methods and technologies are employed for retinal diagnostic testing and treatment.
Retinal Diagnostics and Testing
In most cases, you can expect your first appointment with a retina specialist to take at least 2-3 hours, if not longer, particularly if you require extensive screenings. This initial visit is designed to be more detailed, as it serves as an effective window for retinal specialists to take in the full measure of your eye and vision health.
Dilated Eye Exam
These appointments will typically involve dilation, i.e., the opening and widening of the pupil. Usually involving both eyes, this entails the application of special eye drops. Eye dilations provide doctors with an unobstructed view of the back of the eye, including the retina, the macula, the vitreous gel, the choroid, and more. Post-exam, you’ll be very sensitive to bright light for as much as 8 to 48 hours, or even more. Accordingly, you may need an escort or another driver to ensure you get home safely after your exam.
Beyond regular retinal eye exams, there are a number of imaging techniques that are commonly used to diagnose and monitor retinal conditions. These include:
- Optical Coherence Tomography: A multifunctional, common diagnostic technique, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is safe, non-contact, non-invasive, and can be conducted in only minutes. OCT captures cross-sectional images of the retina and is often used to diagnose conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), macular holes, macular edema, central serous retinopathy, epiretinal membranes, and retinal inflammatory diseases. Compared to other imaging techniques, no radiation, sound, or radiofrequency waves are involved.
- Ultrasound: Using high-frequency sound waves, B-scan ultrasound (USG) offers a simple, noninvasive, painless method for diagnosing the status of different vitreoretinal structures, like the lens, retina, vitreous, sclera (i.e., the outer white part of the eye), and the choroid (i.e., a layer of blood vessels and connective tissue providing oxygen-rich blood to the retina’s exterior layers). USG is used when it’s impossible to directly see within the eye structures or the retinal view’s blocked.
- Fluorescein and Indocyanine Green Angiography: To better see the back of the eye, these techniques involve the use of photographs of retinal vessels. For both, intravenous, colored dyes — yellow for the Fluorescein test and green for Indocyanine Green Angiography — are injected into patients’ arms. These dyes are then transported to the eyes’ blood vessels, as special cameras capture images uncovering the presence of any retinal abnormalities. With Indocyanine Green Angiography, unlike the Fluorescein test, the dye is illuminated when exposed to infrared light, improving technicians’ view of deeper retinal blood vessels.
Common Vitreoretinal Treatments
For certain conditions, the best (and only) treatment option may be consistent monitoring. However, if you’re diagnosed with a retinal or related vision condition, you can discuss your options with our medical team, as we formulate a customized treatment plan. Our retinal specialists and surgeons are experienced with a wide array of modalities, including intravitreal injections, surgical procedures, and other therapies.
Retinal Laser Treatment
At Illinois Retina Associates, we regularly perform in-office, outpatient laser treatment for many retinal conditions, including macular degeneration. In many cases, these procedures are painless, although some discomfort may be experienced, and are completed in as few as 15 minutes. While it may depend on the specific technique, it’s possible you’ll be able to return to your normal routine the following day.
Your retina specialist may recommend the administration of intravitreal injections for a variety of retinal conditions. Often, they’re given for disorders that may result in vision loss due to neovascularization, which is when abnormal, fragile new blood vessels grow under the retina. These drugs are injected directly into the eye, within our clinics. Their goals are to help you preserve vision, keep any loss to a minimum, and if possible, improve existing vision.
A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure involving the partial or complete removal of the vitreous from the back of the eye. This provides surgeons with open, direct access to the retina and neighboring parts. A vitrectomy may be performed when there is interference with retinal function or retinal scar tissue is present. It’s minimally invasive, safe, and effective, and generally, you’ll have little, if any pain and discomfort. Depending on the vitreoretinal condition, additional procedures may be performed in conjunction with this technique.
Scleral Buckle Surgery
With this procedure, also known as scleral buckling, a segment of a sponge or a silicone or plastic band is implanted around the eye. Typically, this procedure is conducted to move the retina’s position, such as with retinal detachments. This procedure may also be performed alongside other treatments to treat retinal breaks or weakened areas.
Advanced Retinal Diagnostics, Testing, and Treatment in Illinois and Indiana
Illinois Retina Associates is a leading retina-only ophthalmology practice in the Midwest devoted to diagnosing and treating the full spectrum of retinal, macular, and vitreoretinal. When you or a loved one visit our retina centers, rest assured that our experienced retina specialists and surgeons will develop a personalized treatment plan to ensure your recovery. Contact one of our 12 convenient locations today to schedule a consultation.