(630) 734-2000
Specializing in surgical and medical diseases
of the retina, macula and vitreous

 

Eye Disorders

DIABETIC RETINOPATHY 
Diabetic Retinopathy is a major cause of loss of vision.  If the patient receives proper care and treatment, diabetic retinopathy rarely causes blindness.
The retina (back of the eye) is made up of two parts:  the macula and the peripheral retina.  The macula is in the center of the retina.  It allows you to see fine detail, recognizes faces, see street signs, and drive a car.  The peripheral retina allows us to see things “out of the corner of our eye.”  You would not be able to make out the fine detail of the object that you see.  Blood vessels also provide nourishment and oxygen to the retina.  In diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels become weak and leak fluid and/or blood into the retina.  As a result, the retina becomes wet and swollen.  When the retina is in this condition, it is unable to function properly.  This is referred to as Background Diabetic Retinopathy (BDR).
Retinal vessels can also close off in patients with diabetes.  The part of the retina that receives nutrition from the closed vessel will no longer work properly.  This leads to the growth of new blood vessels in that area of the retina.  This is referred to as neovascularization and can result in total loss of vision.   This type of diabetic retinopathy is referred to as Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR).

MACULAR DEGENERATION 
Macular degeneration is most often related to the aging process.  Many patients begin to notice changes in their vision around the age of 50.  Macular degeneration usually begins with spots on the retina called drusen.  These usually do not affect the vision.  The presence of the drusen does not necessarily mean that a patient will develop severe vision loss.  Only severe cases of macular degeneration lead to loss of central vision.  If this occurs, it usually only occurs in one eye and may not develop in the other eye.
There are two main types of macular degeneration: a dry form (atrophic or non-exudative) that affects most of the people with advanced forms of macular degeneration.  Patients with this form of macular degeneration notice blanks spots in their central vision.  In the dry form, drusen is present.  If drusen is present for a long period of time, it may cause the macula to thin and cease functioning.  At the present time, there is no medical or surgical treatment for dry macular degeneration.  Dry macular degeneration can turn into the wet form of macular degeneration, so it is important that patients to monitor their central vision.
The more severe form of macular degeneration is the wet type.  Abnormal blood vessels (choroidal neovascular membrane – CNVM) form under the macula.  These blood vessels may leak fluid and blood.  This causes the central vision to be reduced and distorted.  The ability to see fine detail is lost.  If CNVM occurs in one eye, there is an increased chance it may occur in the other eye.  It is important that patients with wet macular degeneration monitor their vision with an Amsler Grid.  We offer the latest treatments for wet macular degeneration.

How To Test Yourself with the Amsler Grid

If you need reading glasses, please wear them while you use the Amsler grid. The grid should be at about the same distance from your eyes that any other reading material would be.

Cover one eye, then focus on the dot in the center.

  • Do any of the lines look wavy, blurred or distorted? (All lines should be straight, all intersections should form right angles and all the squares should be the same size.)
  • Are there any missing areas or dark areas in the grid?
  • Can you see all corners and sides of the grid?
  • Don't forget to test both eyes.

VERY IMPORTANT: Report any irregularity to us immediately.
You can mark areas of the chart that you're not seeing properly and bring it with you to your eye exam.

RETINAL VEIN OCCLUSION
Retinal vein occlusion (or RVO) is a disease of the retina that affects approximately 180,000 people each year in the US.  The retinal veins are an important part of your eye's normal circulation.  A retinal vein occlusion is the blockage of one of these veins.
It is second only to diabetic retinopathy as a cause of visual loss due to retinal vascular disease. Males and females are affected equally. Most occlusions occur after age 50, although younger patients are sometimes seen with this disorder. The highest rate of occurrence is in individuals in their 60’s and 70’s. These disorders are similar to those for vascular occlusive disease elsewhere in the body such as stroke and coronary artery disease. Specifically, aging, high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking are all risk factors.  It is very important to find out if there is an underlying cause to any vascular occlusive disease. 
RVO can lead to swelling or edema of the macula, the part of our eye responsible for central vision and fine detail. This swelling can cause blurry or distorted vision in the affected eye. In some cases, RVO can lead to permanent vision loss. We offer the latest treatments for retinal venous occlusions.

RETINAL TEARS AND DETACHMENT 
The vitreous is a clear gel that fills the back of the eye and is attached to the retina.  As we age, this gel becomes fluid-like.  This liquefaction may also be caused by previous inflammation inside the eye, nearsightedness, or trauma to the eye.  This fluid moves as the eyeball moves and tugs on the retina.  With time, the vitreous pulls away and separates from the retina.  This is called a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) and rarely causes a problem.

Flashes and Floaters
Flashes of light are the result of the vitreous tugging on the retina.  Floaters are parts of the vitreous that liquefy and pull away from the retina.  They may look like spots, circles or strings in the vision.  Patients experiencing flashes of light and floaters should be examined immediately to rule out serious retinal problems such as retinal holes, tears, or detachments.

Retinal Tears
Retinal tears may also occur as the vitreous pulls away from the retina.  A tear may occur immediately after a PVD or it may happen several weeks afterwards.  If the tear occurs over a retinal blood vessel, blood may leak into the vitreous.  This is referred to as a vitreous hemorrhage.  If there is only slight bleeding, the patient may feel like there are flies in their field of vision.  If the bleeding is more severe, the blood may appear as a spider web or like black or red lines swirling in front of their eyes.  This may significantly reduce patients’ vision or their vision may become very dark.  A retinal tear can be a serious problem.  If a hemorrhage is involved it may be even more serious.
Any patient who experiences a sudden onset of floaters or any changes in the floaters they already have, or flashing lights of any type should have a retinal examination immediately to rule out the possibility of a retinal tear.  Retinal tears may result in retinal detachment, which can be a serious problem.

Retinal Detachment
When a tear occurs in the retina, the vitreous gel may enter the tear and potentially pull the retina off the back of the eye.  Vision loss may occur from a retinal detachment.  The signs of a retinal detachment may be a dark shadow or veil coming down from above, below, or from either side.  Any patient who experiences sudden flashing lights, new floaters, or loss of peripheral vision should be seen immediately to rule out a retinal detachment.
Retinal tears may be repaired by laser surgery and/or cryotherapy.  These procedures are done on an outpatient basis.  Laser or cryotherapy may also repair retinal detachments.  If the detachment is too large, a scleral buckle may repair it.  The physician may also elect to perform a pneumatic retinopexy/cryotherapy.  In more complicated cases, the physician may elect to perform a vitrectomy as well.