A retinal specialist is a specialized type of Ophthalmologist. He or she has completed a residency in General Ophthalmology and received additional training allowing them to diagnosis, treat, and perform eye surgery on patients with diseases of the retina. A general Ophthalmologist performs cataract surgery, laser vision correction, and treats other diseases like glaucoma. A retinal specialist can perform those as well, but has received specialized training on complicated retinal diseases such as:
- Macular Degeneration
- Diabetic Retinopathy
- Retinal Detachment
- Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)
- Retinal Vascular Occlusions (RVO)
- Macular Holes
- Complications of Cataract Surgery
Diseases of the retina can be caused by diabetes, hypertension, inflammation, and genetic disorders. Retinal specialists also care for patients with infections, tumors, and eye trauma.
The retina is the nervous tissue that lines the back of the eye wall. Using a camera as an analogy, the retina is the equivalent of the film in the camera. The front of the eye and glasses serve to focus light onto the retina. The retina captures the image and transmits that image to the brain by the optic nerve. Like the film in the camera, vision loss from diseases of the retina are not usually correctible with glasses or contact lenses. Just like changing the lens in the camera will not help the picture if the film is damaged.
As a retinal specialist, I typically do not prescribe glasses or perform routine cataract surgery. My practice is focused on diseases of the retina and vitreous (the liquid gel that fills the eye).
The most common operation retina performed is called a Vitrectomy. A Vitrectomy is used to remove the diseased vitreous and repair the retina. Vitrectomy is the key portion of surgery to remove bloody vitreous, repair detached retinas, macula holes, membranes or complications of cataract surgery. Most of my eye surgery is performed as an outpatient at KU MedWest Ambulatory Surgery Center. In the office, common retinal procedures include laser treatment of retinal tears, and intraocular injections for macula degeneration, diabetes, and other retinal blood vessel disorders.
Retinal Referrals & Emergencies
Rarely does a patient wake up and know that they should see a retina specialist. Most patients are initially referred to us at the recommendation of their own eye doctor. Fortunately most retinal conditions are urgencies that can be addressed in days. However, a few retinal conditions are emergent and we are available to accommodate those emergencies through our answering service, 24/7.