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.

Retinal Conditions St. Paul MN

Is an IOL in Your Future?

It has been estimated that more than 3,000 cataract surgeries are performed each year. Cataracts don’t necessarily develop on the natural lens of the eye; rather, this condition represents a change in the natural lens caused by cellular accumulation. Therefore, the only way to remove cataracts is to remove the natural lens that has become clouded over.

No so long ago, cataract surgery only removed cloudiness. Removing the eye’s natural lens offered this advantage, but this coincided with the consequence of having to wear thick eyeglasses to see relatively well. Today, we benefit from the numerous advances that have occurred over the years. Patients who want to restore clear vision can accomplish this with the use of an appropriate IOL, or intraocular lens.

Why Multifocal IOLs Stand Out

Having any type of vision-correcting intraocular lens in place after cataract surgery is advantageous because there is no maintenance necessary, as there is with contact lenses. Multifocal IOLs represent sophisticated technology through which vision at various distances can be sufficiently restored. The implantation of a lens that focuses “near” and at a distance may take a bit of getting used to because the diffractive and refractive optics offer the brain a lot of visual information at once. Very quickly, though, the brain discerns which information is correct to focus the eyes for reading, driving, and other tasks.

When Combination Makes Sense

Cataracts may be a common condition, but an experienced ophthalmologist also recognizes that every set of eyes is unique. Cataract removal differs from one case to another; it’s not as cookie-cutter as taking out a clouded lens and inserting an artificial lens. Our objective is to restore the best vision possible. To do this, we may suggest a combination of intraocular lenses.

In some circumstances, the most considerable gain may be achieved with the use of a monofocal IOL in one eye and a multifocal IOL in the other. The monofocal lens is prescribed at a single distance (usually distance vision) to provide greater clarity for driving and seeing objects farther away. The multifocal supports near vision. In combination, the two may be more supportive of everyday activities such as working on the computer and driving.

Vitreo Retinal Surgery is dedicated to patient-centered care that promotes long-term wellness. For more information on our services, call (800) VRS-2500.

Retinal Detachment St. Paul MN

Why You May Need to See a Retinal Specialist

Retinal Detachment St. Paul MNEye health is an expansive subject that encompasses much more than basic vision. The eyes are complex structures that contain nerves and vessels and liquid and more. Therefore, there is no “cookie-cutter” method of managing the various conditions that may affect the eyes. This is why there are optometrists, ophthalmologist, and retinal specialists. The varying educational focus of each specialty allows doctors to meet the needs of patients with particular needs. Here, we discuss the needs that are met by the retinal specialist.

What is a retina specialist?

A retinal specialist is an ophthalmologist who has obtained further post-graduate training that includes a study of diseases and surgical techniques of the retina and vitreous body of the eye.  The retina is a layer of tissue at the back of the eye that is believed to trigger impulses in the optic nerve to send light to the brain. The vitreous body is the gel-like fluid that fills the space between the lens at the front of the eye and the retina. To fully understand the anatomy, diseases, and treatments related to this area of the eye, a retinal specialist completes approximately 10 years of educational training.

Conditions Treated by a Retinal Specialist

There are numerous conditions that can be treated by a retinal specialist, including complex situations that may be beyond the scope of a standard ophthalmology practice. Vitreo Retinal Surgery provides diagnosis and treatment for conditions such as:

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The degeneration of the macula is a potentially serious eye disease that can result in vision loss. Appropriate treatment for AMD requires thorough evaluation which, in some circumstances, may involve specialized instruments or techniques.
  • Diabetic retinopathy. This eye disease occurs secondary to diabetes and is triggered by elevated blood sugar levels. Too much sugar in the blood causes swelling and leakage in the delicate blood vessels in the eye. These vessels, as well as the abnormal growth of new vessels, may be treated with laser surgery and pharmaceutical therapies.
  • Retinal detachment. Separation of the retina from surrounding tissue is a rare occurrence, affecting 1 in 10,000 people. Surgery is almost always necessary to reposition the retina and close the hole or tear that caused separation.
  • Macular hole. The macula is situated within the retina and is integral to visual acuity. A hole may develop secondary to injury but, in many cases of macular hole, there is no known cause. Vitrectomy surgery is currently the only method of treating this condition.

We proudly serve patients from areas including Minnesota, St. Paul, and Edina. For a full list of our locations and services, call our office at (800) VRS-2500.

Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy Minneapolis, MN

Why Routine Eye Care is Essential for Diabetics

Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy Minneapolis, MNDiabetes is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions to affect Americans. In light of this diagnosis, healthcare providers are now well aware of the need for cooperation among various specialties. The unsettled nature of blood sugar in diabetic patients present a risk for some secondary conditions, from neuropathy to vision loss. Fortunately, when it comes to eye health, early and consistent management of both diabetes and ocular integrity can help doctors preserve patients’ vision.

The Retina, the Macula, and Diabetes

One of the most common eye diseases to occur secondary to diabetes is retinopathy. Referred to as diabetic retinopathy, this condition first occurs in a non-proliferative manner. Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy is the early indication that damage has occurred in the blood vessels of the retina. There are typically no symptoms that manifest during this early stage of diabetic eye disease. However, it is at this stage when the best chance of vision preservation exists. What this means for the diabetic patient is that routine, comprehensive eye exams need to be obtained as recommended by either an eye doctor or a general health practitioner.

Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy is characterized by microscopic bulges in the blood vessels that feed the retina. While the weakening of these vessels does not pose an immediate threat to vision, there is an associated risk because untreated, the weakness and damage in retinal blood vessels will worsen. This may result in poor blood flow or the leakage of blood and fluid into the tissue surrounding the retina. This is referred to as macular edema.

Macular edema is swelling in the macula around the retina. Because macular edema coincides with micro-aneurysms or bleeding of the retinal blood vessels, symptoms may occur and should indicate a need for prompt eye care. If you notice wavy or blurry central vision, schedule a consultation and examination at Vitreo Retinal Surgery. A minor laser procedure can stop current bleeding, and a treatment plan developed to lower the risk of future bleeds.

Diabetic eye care is an important matter of longevity and quality of living. Contact us at (800) VRS-2500 to learn more about our services.

Retinal Tears and Detachment: What We Can Learn Through Experience

Retinal Detachment St. Paul, MNWhile we rely on proper ocular function for eyesight, very few people become well acquainted with the structures involved in the transportation of light from the front to the back of the eye. In most cases, there is no reason to learn about the intricate nature of the eyeball itself. When a degree of familiarity does come into play is when something goes wrong. Fortunately, if and when that point comes, you can rely on the training and experience of our team of retinal specialists.

Vitreo Retinal Surgery proudly serves patients from areas including Plymouth, St. Paul, Minnesota, Edina, and more. Here, we want to discuss how retinal tears and detachment are related, and when you need to schedule a retinal exam with us.

Important Ocular Structure

The retina sits at the back of the eye and appears as a delicate lining of tissue. A cavity is positioned just in front of the retina and is filled with vitreous, a gel-like substance that contains aqueous fluid, collagen fibrils, and macromolecules. As we age, the semi-stable consistency of the vitreous morphs into a water-like fluid. This transition is believed to occur in all adults at some point. As it does, the risk for separation, referred to as posterior vitreous separation, increases.

About Retinal Tears

The brain naturally wants to connect the dots between cause and effect. Regarding retinal detachment, there is more than one factor to consider. In some cases, we see retinal tears occur after a direct eye injury. However, posterior vitreous separation, as benign as it is on its own, may be the catalyst for a tear in retinal tissue if the pull on this fragile lining becomes too great. Bottom line, trauma does not have to occur to experience a retinal tear.

About Retinal Detachment

Most cases of retinal detachment are preceded by a retinal tear. Therefore, it is ideal to obtain professional care from a retinal specialist if you experience the sudden onset of floaters or flashes, or if your vision becomes darkened in general. Detachment occurs when fluid from the eye seeps through the tear in the lining, creating space between the retina and the wall of the back of the eye. Retinal detachment presents the risk of vision loss and needs to be treated quickly to reduce this risk.

Treating Retinal Tears and Detachment

Treatment for retinal tears and detachment may begin with the evaluation of posterior vitreous separation. Observing the back of the eye, we can determine if a tear has occurred, and how best to treat that condition. Tears are often treated with laser, but may also be treated with cryotherapy. Retinal detachment often requires surgery but may involve an in-office procedure if the extent of separation is not severe.

There is no need for retinal detachment to be a medical emergency. When floaters and flashes are evaluated early, there is a greater chance for conservative treatment.

For assistance with retinal conditions and treatments, call (800) VRS-2500.

Central Retinal Vein Occlusion Minneapolis MN

A Stroke in Your Eye? It Could Happen!

Central Retinal Vein Occlusion Minneapolis MN A stroke is an event that occurs when blood flow somewhere in the body becomes obstructed. We usually think of stroke as something that affects the brain. However, there is such a thing as blood flow blockage in the eye. A block, or occlusion, in the eye may affect the optic nerve, retina, or other vital structure, presenting a risk to vision. Here, we discuss the types of occlusion that may occur and what may be done to correct the blockage.

Central Retinal Artery Occlusion (CRAO)

This type of occlusion presents without pain. What a patient normally experiences is a dramatic and sudden loss of vision in one eye. However, studies do indicate that vision loss “episodes” referred to as amaurosis fugax may precede this major event. There is also evidence that central retinal artery occlusion may occur in conjunction with high blood pressure and carotid artery disease, diabetes, or disease affecting the valves of the heart.

Branch Retinal Artery Occlusion (BRAO)

This type of “eye stroke” affects peripheral vision in most cases; both peripheral vision and central vision on rare occasions. Research suggests that branch retinal artery occlusion is related to the presence of an embolus (small clot) that has traveled to the eye from a valve in the heart or the primary carotid artery in the neck. The risk factors for this retinal occlusion are similar to those for central retinal artery occlusion, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Treatment and Management Strategies for Vision Preservation

The concern with both types of retinal artery occlusion is the permanent loss of vision. The prognosis for central retinal artery occlusion is poor. However, prompt medical attention may be successful in preventing extensive and irreparable damage. In cases of branch retinal artery occlusion, more care options are available, including laser treatment to prevent severe vision loss. In both instances, ophthalmology and general medicine combine to create strategies that lower the risk of recurrence or persistence of these conditions.

If you experience a sudden loss of vision or sudden visual disturbance, even if only temporary, contact your physician right away for a referral to a qualified retinal specialist. For information on the services available in our offices, call (800) VRS-2500.

Macular Hole Surgery Minneapolis, MN

Let’s Look at the Macula

Macular Hole Surgery Minneapolis, MNThe eye could be likened to a camera. At the front of the ocular structure is a lens. This lens takes in light and focuses it onto the retina at the back of the eye so a clear image can be formed. What helps to form the images that we observe is a collection of nerve cells located in the central region of the retina, a structure we call the macula.

A Hole Where It Doesn’t Belong

Black holes in the galaxy are one thing, a hole in the back of the eye is an even more interesting phenomenon. It’s a problem that can affect the quality of life, and one that needs to be evaluated by a qualified retinal specialist. There is often no precursor to the development of a macular hole. Occasionally, this condition coincides with retinal detachment or results from a direct injury to the eye.

Diagnosing the Macular Hole

Symptoms that may occur in the event of a macular hole include changes in vision. Instead of vision being clear, it becomes dense with fogginess, or may also appear wavy. A dark spot may appear in the central field of vision, or it may become difficult to observe fine details when looking straight at an object. Because macular holes occur in only one eye, these symptoms will be unilateral.

The presence of a macular hole can be confirmed by observing the back of the eye with a special instrument. Specific imaging may also be performed to obtain a more detailed, cross-sectional view of the retina and macula.

Does a macular hole need to be treated?

It is not common for a macular hole to heal spontaneously. Most often, the hole continues to expand, causing vision to progressively degrade over time. Treatment with surgery is usually recommended. Fortunately, the procedure used to close a macular hole has a strong history of success.

Vision changes can be concerning. We’ve got you covered. Learn more about the symptoms and treatment of macular holes at (800) VRS-2500. Vitreo Retinal Surgery has locations in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Blaine, Edina, Oakdale, Plymouth, St. Cloud and Duluth.

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

What Floaters and Flashes have to do with Retinal Health

What Floaters and Flashes have to do with Retinal Health | VitreoRetinal Surgery, PA | Minneapolis MNAny instances of abnormal apparitions in vision, such as glares and halos around lights, blurred vision, flashes, and floaters can cause alarm. The term “floaters” is often used to describe visions of cobwebs, threads, or specks across the field of vision. Flashes may occur when blinking, or randomly across the visual field. In most cases, floaters and flashes are harmless. However, it is important to know what these visual disturbances could mean, and when floaters and flashes should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist.

What Floaters May Indicate

Floaters occur when a small protein deposit or cluster of cells lodges in the vitreous humor, the egg-like gel that is located at the rear of the eyeball. This soft structure is connected to the retina. A floater is a shadow that is cast onto the retina from the accumulation within the vitreous humor. Because the vitreous humor becomes somewhat stringy as we age, most people notice a higher prevalence of floaters sometime after the age of 60. Sometimes, the frequency of floaters may inhibit reading or other concentrated tasks but, in most cases, that is the end of it.

Noticing the Signs of Trouble

When floaters begin to occur randomly, and with great frequency, there is a reason to contact an ophthalmologist for a comprehensive exam. This is because, under certain circumstances, floaters may indicate a substantial change in the integrity of the retina. If the shrinking vitreous humor tugs enough on the retina, detachment may occur. This event, referred to as a posterior vitreous detachment, may be a threat to vision.

There is no pain involved in this tearing away, which is why it is important to recognize signs such as:

  • Rapid onset of flashes and floaters
  • Gradual decrease in vision from one side (darkening like closing curtains)
  • Quickly declining central vision

Warning signs of full retinal detachment should be assessed right away. Retinal tears, the onset of detachment, may be repaired with appropriate laser surgery.

Schedule a Consultation

Vitreo Retinal Surgery, PA has several locations in Minnesota to serve you. To learn more about the diagnosis and treatment of retinal detachment or to schedule a consultation, please call (800) VRS-2500.

A Look at the Progression of AMD | VitreoRetinal Surgery, PA | Minneapolis MN

A Look at the Progression of AMD

A Look at the Progression of AMD | VitreoRetinal Surgery, PA | Minneapolis MNAge-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is attributed to thousands of instances of low vision and blindness. This eye disease typically occurs later in life and involves the central part of the retina. It is understandable that any person diagnosed with macular degeneration, wet or dry, would feel a great deal of concern. Part of our role as retinal specialists is to diagnose and manage age-related macular degeneration. Another aspect of personal care, one that is no less important, is our support of patients who are in need of ongoing information. One of the questions that patients may have about this condition is how fast it will progress. We’re going to touch on that here.

Rate of Progression Can Depend on the Type of AMD

Wet macular degeneration is the more severe if the two types. This condition involves blood and fluid leakage from cells that grow beneath the retina. The progression of dry AMD is slower and usually, does not cause as extensive vision loss as does wet AMD.

Progression of AMD Risk Factors

Research suggests that smoking significantly increases the risk of macular degeneration. This is because caustic chemicals in cigarettes can damage blood vessels. Free radicals are also more challenging to fight when the body is also cleansing out toxins from cigarette products. This is a risk factor that one can control. Since hereditary factors are uncontrollable, healthy lifestyle habits such as eating foods rich in antioxidants can help offset them.

Early Diagnosis is Key

Ideally, macular degeneration is a condition that can be diagnosed early. When we can identify the early warning signs of this condition, patients have the best possible opportunity to respond to treatment. There is no cure for AMD, therefore only therapeutic treatment can help preserve eyesight for the greatest length of time. Yearly eye exams become even more important as adults reach the age of 60, but should begin much earlier.

Schedule a Consultation

Vitreo Retinal Surgery has multiple offices in Minnesota, including St. Paul and Minneapolis. Call (800) VRS-2500 for more information on age-related macular degeneration.