March 6, 2022

Can Retinal Damage Cause Blindness?

Close up of a green eye.

Retinal damage is an eye condition that can cause blindness in some cases, but fortunately, there are treatments that can help many patients experiencing retina issues. Learning about the retina and how to protect it can help you prevent vision loss and recognize the early warning signs of retinal disease or damage. To learn more about the retina and the treatment options that are available, read on.

What Is Retinal Damage?

Retinal damage is any change in the function or health of the retina, which is a crucial layer of protective tissue over the eyeball that processes sights for the brain. Retina damage causes include trauma like an eyeball wound or a foreign object in the eye or exposure to unsafe light levels without proper protection. While many get retinal damage from bright light or injuries, some patients also gain retinal damage over time as a natural consequence of aging. Stress, drug use, and conditions like heart disease can also affect retina health.

A variety of diseases and conditions lead to retinal damage. Each condition typically manifests in slightly different symptoms and requires unique treatment. Some of the conditions associated with retinal damage include:

  • Macular degeneration: a condition common in aging patients in which the macula, the part of the eye that recognizes details, slowly fails over time.
  • Macular hole: an abrasion to the macula.
  • Macular pucker: a type of scar tissue that forms on the macula.
  • Macular edema: a large amount of fluid in the macula that affects vision.
  • Retinablastoma: retinal cancer that’s most common in children.
  • Diabetic eye disease: a side effect of diabetes where blood vessels in the eye suffer.

What Will Happen If the Retina Gets Damaged?

Each case of retinal damage is unique, but if the retina gets damaged and doesn’t receive proper treatment, individuals might suffer vision loss or other negative consequences. Retina damage can lead to changes in vision. For example, some patients with damaged retinas struggle to comprehend images or see distorted lines or shapes. Retinal detachment could occur, in which the retina loses contact with the retinal pigment epithelium, a protective tissue within the eye. Retinal detachment can require urgent treatment. Some damaged retinas, especially those with macular issues, might leak blood or fluid.

To prevent further damage or vision loss, it’s important for individuals to seek treatment as soon as they notice signs of retina damage. You may consider seeking a retinal damage test, where an expert can examine th eye and retina function and analyze your symptoms to reach a diagnosis. Here are some of the tests doctors use to diagnose retina damage:

  • Fundus autofluorescence (FAF): scans the eye for lipofuscin, a retinal pigment that can indicate progression of retinal damage.
  • Amsler grid test: a vision screening that doctors sometimes use to evaluate distortion or vision loss caused by retinal damage.
  • Fluorescein angiography: identifies damaged blood vessels, which are associated with some forms of retinal damage, like diabetic eye disease.
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT): records images of the retina, which doctors then evaluate for swelling, injuries, or improvement.

Can Retinal Damage Cause Blindness?

In some cases, retinal damage can cause partial or complete blindness. Retinal damage might be more likely to progress to blindness if it’s left without treatment. Retinal damage can vary in severity, cause, and underlying conditions. While blindness is possible, not all cases of retinal damage lead to eventual blindness. It’s important for individuals experiencing signs of retinal damage to seek diagnosis and treatment so they can understand the potential effects of their personal condition.

What Are the Signs of Retinal Damage?

Retinal damage can manifest differently in different patients. However, there are some common symptoms that might signify retinal damage. These signs include:

  • Struggle to perceive light.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Dark, blurry, or blind spots.
  • Struggle to focus on lines.
  • Distorted lines or shapes.
  • Seeing circles around lights.
  • Floaters, spots that move about your line of vision.
  • Inability to retain images.
  • Seeing double.

if you experience any of these symptoms, it might be helpful to contact an ophthalmology professional immediately. Doctors can help patients learn more about their condition and explore treatment options. With proper diagnosis and treatment, it’s possible to manage retinal damage and improve side effects.

Is Retinal Damage Reversible?

With early detection and proper treatment, it is possible to reverse some retinal damage. Highly trained specialists can use modern technology to restore vision loss, control the progression of side effects, and reattach retinas. Doctors use methods like surgery, injections, and laser therapy to reverse retinal damage when possible. It’s important to note that in some cases, retinal damage may not be reversible. It’s still vital to work with a professional to minimize the progression of retinal disease or damage. If left untreated, retinal damage can continue to affect patients’ vision.

Which Eye Problems Lead to Blindness?

There are many diseases, injuries, and infections that cause blindness in some patients, and learning about these conditions might help you prevent vision loss. Blindness can occur suddenly, but many patients experience a gradual loss of vision over time. Here are some eye problems that can result in blindness:

  • Stargardt Disease: loss of central vision in children caused by a decrease in photoreceptor cells in the macula.
  • Macular degeneration: gradual loss of central vision due to a failure of the macula.
  • Juvenile retinoschisis: a hereditary disease that causes progressive retinal failure and poor peripheral and central vision in children.
  • Vitelliform macular dystrophy: a hereditary form of macular degeneration also known as Best Disease.
  • Leber congenital amaurosis: a hereditary condition in which a baby is born with poor central vision and severe light sensitivity.
  • Glaucoma: Optic nerve damage caused by enhanced pressure on the eye, causing vision problems.
  • Cataracts: cloudy vision resulting from damage to the eye’s lens, common in individuals over 50.

Frequent visits to optometry and ophthalmology specialists can help you identify issues early and learn about potential solutions. While retinal conditions can have dire consequences, if it’s found and treated early, it’s possible to protect your eyes from further damage. If you’re interested in retinal treatment in Northeast Pennsylvania, Northeastern Eye Institute has the latest technology and a team of highly-skilled retinal specialists with years of experience. Schedule a visit today to meet with our team of retina experts.

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