What Floaters and Flashes have to do with Retinal Health | VitreoRetinal Surgery, PA | Minneapolis MN

Common Questions about Floaters

As retinal specialists, we frequently hear questions about visual distortions. Floaters, the appearance of a speck of light or foreign object drifting across the field of vision, are quite common. Here, we want to discuss the questions that our patients ask and what you need to know if you begin to notice floaters in your own vision.

What is an eye floater?

A floater is the appearance of some type of spot or worm-like shape moving across the eye. The “spot” is actually a clump of protein that has formed inside the eye.

How can I identify a floater?

Floaters appear in a number of forms. Some people describe floaters as cobwebs moving through their vision when they are looking at a broad, blank visual field. A floater may look like hairs, birds flying way off in the distance, black dots, or bright lights. Floaters may move along with the eye as observation moves from one object to another. Sometimes spots move when observation stays on a singular object. Often, when a person tries to catch on to a floater, the apparition disappears momentarily.

What causes floaters in the eye?

Floaters are made up of protein molecules in the eye. These clumps of proteins develop because, with age, the gel-like fluid that fills most of the space in the eye changes in consistency. Instead of staying dense and gelatinous, the vitreous becomes more fluid and watery. As this happens, clumps of protein have nothing to do but float. When they do, they cast shadows onto the retina as light passes through the eye. It is the shadows on the retina that appear as floaters in the field of vision.

Typically, floaters are a visual distortion that is related only to the aging process. Eye injury or a retinal tear or detachment could also cause floaters.

Should I be concerned about floaters?

Most adults experience floaters at some point as their vitreous matter changes. Floaters are typically not perceived as dangerous, except in instances in which numerous floaters appear suddenly.

The sudden onset of floaters in the eye could indicate a retinal tear or detachment, which occurs when the shrinking vitreous pulls on the retina at the back of the eye. Depending on the degree of tugging, the retina may partially detach from the back wall of the eye. A retinal tear or detachment may also cause symptoms such as shadowing across the field of vision. If severe floaters and shadowing come on quickly or worsen quickly, emergency medical care should be sought.

Floaters should not be a significant cause for concern. However, if spots in your field of vision are disruptive, you may benefit from treatment with a retinal specialist.

We are pleased to serve patients in areas including Duluth, St. Cloud, Edina, and more. For more information on retinal services, call (800) VRS-2500.

Retinal Detachment St. Paul, MN

What is Posterior Vitreous Detachment and is it Serious?

Any term that refers to the body and includes the word “detachment” can sound frightening. Posterior vitreous detachment is an eye condition that sounds far worse than it may be. In some cases, treatment never becomes necessary. In some cases. Because there is a slight chance that symptoms of posterior vitreous detachment could indicate a serious eye problem, it is critical that an ophthalmic exam takes place right away.

How to Spot Vitreous Detachment

The number one indicator of a potential threat to your eyesight is the sudden onset or increase in floaters. This visual phenomenon looks like tiny shapes or spots of light that drift across your visual field when you move your eyes from one object to another.

The reason that floaters occur is that the vitreous, or gel-like substance that fills the space between the front and the back of the eye, degrades. The vitreous is tethered to a base near the front of the eye by small collagen fibers. These fibers are also present at the back of the eye to secure the vitreous to the retina and the optic nerve.

Over time, collagen fibers throughout the whole body begin to break down, including in the eye. This deterioration of collagen leads to the liquefication of the vitreous. The gelatinous matter becomes somewhat unstable and fluid, causing contraction that may separate the vitreous from the back of the eye. Floaters signify the stringy strands of the degrading vitreous casting shadows on the retina.

Usually, floaters decrease spontaneously over a few months’ time and no further symptoms occur. The collagen fibers that once connected the vitreous to one of its bases break away and no permanent damage is done. Sometimes, though, the fibers do not break easily. Instead, they pull on the retina and pose a risk of tear or retinal detachment.

Very few people who experience posterior vitreous detachment also develop retinal problems. If the retina were to tear or detach, treatment would need to be administered right away to seal this part of the eye. This is often done with cryotherapy or laser therapy or, in some cases, surgery to reattach the retina. When conducted early, treatment for retinal tears and detachment is over 90 percent successful.

VitreoRetinal Surgery, PA is proud to serve patients in St. Paul, Blaine, Minneapolis, and other MN cities. For more information on our services, call (800) VRS-2500.

Central Retinal Vein Occlusion Minneapolis MN

Cryotherapy for Retinal Disease

You may have heard of cryotherapy as a treatment for warts or early skin cancers. You may have even heard about the health benefits of whole-body cryotherapy, such as faster tissue healing and inflammation-control. The fact of the matter is that science has discovered a multitude of ways to utilize this technology, including helping people with retinal disease.

Retinal Cryotherapy

The retina is a critical part of the eye, located at the back of the eye where light is supposed to land after passing through anterior structures like the cornea. The retina is a thin piece of tissue but one that fulfills an important role in vision. In the retina are cells called rods and cones, each is very sensitive to light and picks up visual details from light to pass onto the brain via the optic nerve. Being that the retina is so sensitive, this part of the eye is also susceptible to damage. For example:

  • Blood supply to the retina may be blunted by irregularly shaped or damaged blood vessels.
  • Tumors may develop on the retina (retinoblastoma).
  • The retina may become ischemic due to the low oxygen supply.
  • The retina may partially or completely detach.

Because the retina transfers light to the optic nerve for translation into visual images, damage to this part of the eye will cause some degree of visual disturbance. Depending on the problem and its severity, the disruption may range from blurriness to vision loss. Retinal cryotherapy provides your retinal specialist with a way to counter certain problems.

Retinal cryotherapy is a treatment in which extreme cold is utilized to create scar tissue in the retina in a precisely controlled manner. The formation of scar tissue causes “tissue destruction” that subsequently provokes a healing response in which retinal tissue is regenerated. Using retinal cryotherapy, it may be possible to restore vision to some extent, sometimes completely.

Receive Specialized Eye Care When You Need It

The physicians at Vitreo Retinal Specialists, PA are all board-certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology. Together, we have been serving patients in areas in and around St. Paul, Edina, Minneapolis, Duluth, St. Cloud, and other communities for several years. Patients and referring physicians have access to our team 24 hours a day and can expect prompt and compassionate care.

To arrange a consultation with one of our specialists, call (800) VRS-2500.

 

 

Retinopathy MN

How Your Blood Pressure Can Affect Retinal Health

The average life is an awfully long time to live with unpleasant eye conditions. As retinal specialists, it is our mission to help people maintain a good quality of life by handling various forms of eye disease or injury; but first, we have to know they exist. It isn’t enough for us to understand this, you also need to be aware of the particular risks your eyes may face. One that we’d like to discuss here is your blood pressure.

High blood pressure, referred to as hypertension, is a common health condition that is typically thought to affect cardiovascular health. Rarely do we make the jump straight from observing an increase in pressure in the body’s veins when the heart beats to wondering how that will affect the eyes. The thing about high blood pressure is that it can affect any vein anywhere in the body. Because the blood vessels in the eye are particularly small and delicate, they may be more susceptible to problems related to high blood pressure.

Hypertension and Your Eyes

When a person has high blood pressure, there is more force placed on the blood vessels than is normal and healthy. Increased pressure in the veins can degrade their walls, causing swelling. In the eyes, this can lead to leakage. What is of concern about high blood pressure is that the increase in vascular force does not occur with symptoms; it can go on for years without anyone knowing. This is why adults of all ages are encouraged to schedule annual health checkups during which blood pressure and other screenings are performed. Without you even knowing you have high blood pressure, your eyes could be suffering progressive and irreparable damage.

The eye condition related to high blood pressure is referred to as hypertensive retinopathy. Though no obvious symptoms may alert you to this condition, your eye doctor can see the clues. The signs of hypertensive retinopathy may be observed during a dilated eye exam using an ophthalmoscope, a lighted instrument that illuminates the structures in the eye. During this type of exam, the ophthalmologist can see the optic nerve, the retina and its center (the macula), and the blood vessels throughout the back of the eye. Hypertensive retinopathy may present as swelling in the macula, narrowing of the blood vessels, or micro-leaks from blood vessels.

Treat the Cause, Not the Symptoms

The way that hypertensive retinopathy is ideally treated is through proper medical management which lowers blood pressure. Once the retina has been extensively damaged, there may be no way to restore optimal vision.

Vitreo Retinal Surgery has several offices in Minnesota to assist you. Call (800) VRS-2500 for more information on retinopathy and potential treatment options to manage eye health.

Diabetic Retinopathy Minneapolis, MN

The Importance of Knowing about Diabetic Eye Disease

November is Diabetic Eye Disease Month. Here, we discuss the risks that diabetic patients face and how long-term vision can be protected with a few simple steps.

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that has the potential to create a number of secondary problems in the body. As we have learned through years of research and practical experience, the eyes are particularly susceptible to the effects of unregulated blood sugar. In fact, studies show that the longer a person lives with diabetes, the greater their risk for diabetic retinopathy, a diabetic eye disease that could severely degrade vision.

How Diabetic Eye Disease Can Cause Vision Loss

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition in which the blood vessels at the back of the eye sustain damage. This can lead to:

  • Fluid accumulation around the retina and also in the vitreous cavity in front of the retina. This accumulation originates with weak, leaky blood vessels in this part of the eye. Initially, retinopathy does not show signs. Over time, weakness of one or more blood vessels can lead to a vitreous hemorrhage. Symptoms of this condition include blurry vision and floaters.
  • Macular edema. Swelling and fluid retention on the macula, the central part of the retina, may occur if diabetic retinopathy is not properly treated early on in its progression. As the macula swells, it may thicken, causing vision to become distorted.

In addition to diabetic retinopathy, statistics indicate that diabetes also increases the risk of vision-disrupting conditions like glaucoma and cataracts. Diabetic patients are at least twice as likely to develop one or both of these complications.

Vision Minneapolis MN

Protecting Your Vision

The primary problem with diabetic eye disease is that symptoms do not typically manifest right away. Because the key to successful eye health is to commence with a management program during the early stages of diabetic eye disease, awareness is vital to protecting vision. Patients are encouraged to:

Get Help with Blood Sugar Management

We know from clinical studies that blood sugar regulation is directly related to the onset of diabetic eye disease. Therefore, diabetes management is critical to the prevention of retinopathy and other conditions that may cause vision loss. Additionally, some studies suggest that keeping cholesterol levels lower further increases one’s resistance to diabetic eye disease. Blood sugar management can come from a partnership with a doctor or nutritionist and can be highly successful when maintained on a regular basis.

Get Annual Dilated Eye Exams

Patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes have a lot to gain by quickly scheduling a dilated eye exam. These exams are more comprehensive, allowing the ophthalmologist to observe the optic nerve, retina, blood vessels, and other important structures in the eye. A dilated eye exam would ideally be the first place for diabetic eye disease to be detected. This paves the way for prompt and appropriate treatment.

Vitreo Retinal Surgery proudly serves patients throughout Minnesota, including St. Paul, Minneapolis, and more. Schedule your diabetic eye exam with an experienced retinal specialist by calling 800-VRS-2500.

Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy St. Paul, MN

Diabetic Macular Edema: What is it and What can be Done to Preserve Sight?

Floaters and blurry vision are relatively common experiences for most adults. Double-vision? Not so much. If these are visual disturbances that regularly appear in your field of vision, we encourage you to schedule a visit with a board-certified ophthalmologist sooner rather than later. These phenomena are potential indications of diabetes. If not properly diagnosed and treated, floaters, double-vision and blurriness could ultimately result in vision loss. Here, we discuss how these symptoms are related to diabetic macular edema (DME) and what we can do to help you preserve your eyesight.

Diabetic macular edema is a serious eye condition characterized by excess fluid accumulation in the macula. This is the part of the eye in which the most detailed vision capabilities are controlled. Fluid accumulates here when blood vessels in the eye leak. Diabetic macular edema is a complication of diabetic retinopathy, the primary condition that causes leakage from these blood vessels. When DME develops, it may do so in one of two forms:

  • Focal DME results from abnormalities in the blood vessels of the eye.
  • Diffuse DME results from swelling of the capillaries in the retina.

Diabetics whose blood sugar is not well-regulated are at risk of diabetic retinopathy and the complication of diabetic macular edema. Additional associated risks include:

  • An extended period of time with diabetes
  • Fluid retention
  • Severe high blood pressure
  • Hyperlipidemia (high-fat levels in the blood)
  • Hypoalbuminemia (low protein levels in the blood)

How an Ophthalmologist can Help

It is necessary for people with symptoms of diabetic eye disease to obtain regular eye exams. This enables physicians to stay ahead of complications of the chronic blood-sugar disease. If a patient presents with symptoms of diabetic macular edema, we work quickly and often alongside the person’s primary healthcare team to reduce pressure in the eye and stop the capillary bleeding.

Both focal and diffuse DME may be treated with laser eye surgery, though the technique for each differs slightly. Focal DME may be treated with a focal laser, whereas diffuse DME may be treated with a grid laser to cover a wider operative area.

Vitreo Retinal Surgery, PA has been established with the mission of helping patients save their sight. Our team is available for emergency care as needed, and has a strong commitment to treating patients as we would our own families. We have several facilities throughout Minnesota, including St. Cloud, Duluth, and Minneapolis. Call (800) VRS-2500 to locate an office near you.

Retinal Detachment St. Paul MN

Causes of Retinal Detachment

The retina is a structure that sits at the back of the eye. The layers of cells that make up the retina are ultra-thin and sensitive to light. This light sensitivity is what allows the retina to record the various wavelengths that enter the eye and use the optic nerve to send electrical signals to the brain. The signals transmitted through the optic nerve are translated into visual images. This is the process of sight. It is a process that directly involves the retina and one that indicates just how crucial it is to keep this part of the eye healthy and functional.

Retinal detachment is a relatively rare event that occurs when the retinal membrane loosens from its foundation on the back of the eye. Here, we discuss the symptoms, causes, and contributing factors of a detached retina.

Symptoms of Retinal Detachment

Contrary to what one may expect, a detached retina is not a painful event. Because there is no discomfort to warn of detachment, it is vital to recognize other symptoms. As the retina comes loose from the back of the eye, flashes of light, floaters, specks, and spots may suddenly appear in the field of vision. Shadowing and blurriness may also occur. Any one of these symptoms warrants prompt medical attention.

Retinal Detachment Causes

Cases of retinal detachment usually result from one of three common underlying problems.

  • Tractional detachment occurs when scar tissue on the retinal surface creates a pulling effect that loosens the retina from the wall of the eye.
  • Exudative detachment is a condition in which the retina itself is in good condition, but fluid has built up beneath it as a result of inflammation or injury.
  • Rhegmatogenous detachment occurs when fluid builds up beneath the retina due to a hole or tear in its structure.

Contributing Factors in Retinal Detachment

There are no telltale indicators that any person will suffer retinal detachment. However, specific contributing factors have been noted for increasing risk. When more than one contributing factor is present, routine retinal evaluation becomes even more critical to long-term health and wellness. People with more than one of the following may also want to have a plan in place to obtain prompt emergency services from a retinal specialist.

  • Over 50 years of age.
  • A family history of retinal detachment.
  • Previous retinal detachment.
  • Previous eye surgery.
  • Severe eye or head injury.
  • Advanced diabetes.
  • Extreme nearsightedness.

What to Do About Retinal Detachment

A detached retina can be repaired so long as it remains somewhat intact. This is why immediate medical care is necessary in the event of sudden-onset symptoms. If the retina detaches completely, the thin tissue becomes non-viable and permanent blindness will occur in that eye.

Schedule a Consultation

We are proud to serve patients in areas including Blaine, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Edina, and more. To reach an office near you, contact us at (800) VRS-2500.

Retinal Detachment Minneapolis, MN

Vitrectomy Recovery: What You Should Know

Patient wellness is a primary focus of the care provided here at Vitreo Retinal Surgery. To achieve our high standard of care, we prioritize patient education. If you need surgical retina treatment, we want you to know all relevant details so you can make the best decision for your eye health based on the full assessment of risks and benefits of any given procedure. Here, we discuss what patients need to know about vitrectomy.

What is Vitrectomy?

Vitrectomy eye surgery removes the vitreous gel that fills the middle section of the eye. The vitreous gel may be removed to allow direct access to the retina to address any issues that may exist. After the retina has been appropriately treated, the space between the front and back of the eye must be filled. In many cases, it is filled with a gas bubble. Sometimes, silicone oil is inserted into the space.

Who Might Need Vitrectomy?

Conditions for which vitrectomy may be recommended include:

  • Internal eye bleeding
  • Macular hole
  • Damaged caused by diabetic retinopathy
  • Retinal tear or detachment

After Vitrectomy

One of the critical aspects of vitrectomy recovery is that the patient maintains a consistent position that supports the gas bubble or silicone oil during the healing process. Specific activities need to be avoided until follow up with the retinal specialist. These include any strenuous activities, alcohol consumption, smoking, lifting objects over five pounds, and bending over. Several follow up visits may be scheduled after vitrectomy to observe the progress of healing. If silicone oil has been used, a secondary procedure is necessary to remove it from the eye, as this does not absorb.

Learn More about Vitrectomy from Vitreo Retinal Specialists

We don’t want you to have any lingering questions about the treatment that has been recommended for your eye condition. Our friendly staff is happy to speak with you or schedule a consultation in one of our conveniently located office where you can sit down with a qualified retinal specialist to discuss your eye health, treatment options, and questions.

Vitreo Retinal Specialists proudly serves patients from areas included Edina, Minneapolis, St. Cloud, St. Paul, and more. Call 800-VRS-2500 to locate an office near you.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration Minneapolis MN

Can Supplements Really Help Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

A diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration can be troubling. Although there are more than 200,000 new diagnoses each year, scientific research has not yet found a way to cure the progressive loss of vision. That is not to say there has been no progress in the management of this condition that thins the macula.

 

Every health food store offers a plethora of supplements specifically formulated to support eye health. Taking “eye vitamins” may sound like a good idea for a person who wants to reduce their risk of developing age-related eye conditions like nearsightedness or farsightedness; but can supplementation help you if you are at risk of a more serious eye disease like AMD? Furthermore, what if you’ve already been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration and have noticed signs of diminished vision?

What Scientific Research Has to Say

Several years ago, researchers collaborated on the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS). This original body of research found that individuals with age-related macular degeneration may be able to slow the progression of vision loss by supplementing a healthy diet with a combination of particular ingredients, including:

  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Beta-carotene
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E

According to findings, researchers suggested that supplementation may reduce the worsening of AMD by as much as 25 percent.

In 2013, a second study (AREDS2) tested varying combinations of the original ingredient list. Three additional ingredients were also observed for therapeutic value. These included omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Omega 3s are found in fish, while lutein and zeaxanthin are plant-based nutrients.

The findings of this follow-up study confirmed that the initial list of ingredients provides substantial value to patients with age-related macular degeneration. The primary merits of the new supplement formulation include improved safety related to lowered dosing of zinc and beta-carotene.

Quality Counts

No prescription is necessary to obtain an AREDS2 formula or any other supplement intended for eye health. However, quality counts. That is why we recommend products made by Focus Vision Supplements, a nutraceutical company formed by hundreds of ophthalmologists who share an interest in utilizing the latest scientific breakthroughs to improve supplementation for ocular disease.

Schedule a Consultation

Vitreo Retinal Surgery, PA has several offices throughout Minnesota. Schedule a consultation with us at (800) VRS-2500.

Vitreous Hemorrhage St. Paul MN

What is a Vitreoretinal Disease?

Vitreoretinal diseases are our specialty. This term does not describe a single condition, but a group of eye disease that affects the retina at the back of the eye and the vitreous fluid around it. A vitreoretinal disease may occur secondary to diabetes or another health problem. Conversely, aging may be the primary risk factor for some people affected by vitreoretinal disease.

Examples of conditions categorized as vitreoretinal diseases include:

  • Macular degeneration
  • Retinal tear or detachment
  • Macular hole
  • Diabetic retinopathy

Understanding Vitreoretinal Diseases

The retina is the lining at the back of the eye. This lining transmits light to the brain via the optic nerve and helps the brain identify what we see. At the center of the retina is the macula, where light focuses to make vision sharp and clear. Between the retina and the lens at the front of the eye, space is filled with vitreous fluid, which is clear and gel-like in consistency.

Vitreoretinal diseases are conditions that affect any one of these structures. Because the retina and macula are integral to vision, a disease in this part of the eye can temporarily or permanently diminish vision. Therefore, any symptoms related to vitreoretinal disease need to be evaluated by a retinal specialist as quickly as possible. Some retinal conditions may be detected during routine eye exams before symptoms become apparent. This is advantageous because it allows us the best possible opportunity to slow or stop the disease process.

Symptoms of vitreoretinal disease include:

  • Night blindness.
  • Floaters in the visual field, especially the sudden onset of spots.
  • Dimming in central or peripheral vision.
  • Flashes of light.
  • Severe eye pain.
  • Sudden vision loss.
  • Distortion of printed words when reading.
  • Distortion in central vision, such as wavy lines.
  • Extreme light sensitivity.

Treating Vitreoretinal Disease

Vitreoretinal conditions can be severe and may cause vision loss. In many cases, treatment is available to preserve vision and slow the progression of vision deterioration. Treatment methods are developed based on the type of retinal damage and the severity of the condition. In some cases, medication may be administered to support visual function. Sometimes, as in the case of retinal detachment, a minor surgical procedure may be necessary.

We are a Minnesota retinal specialist group serving areas including Duluth, Minneapolis, and more. To find an office near you, contact us today at (800) VRS-2500.