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What Does The Retina Do, Anyway?

The retina is a complex tissue that lines that back of the interior wall of your eye. It is very thin and delicate and serves a crucial part of your eyesight.

Keep reading to learn more about what the retina does and why it’s a key part of how we see!

How the retina works

The retina is made up of cells that act as photoreceptors. These are cells that detect and process light and color.

These cells convert light into electrical signals sent from the retina to the brain. This is done by the optic nerve. The two types of cells are called “rods” and “cones”, based on their basic physical shape.

Rod cells are responsible for detecting motion and black and white vision. They also function better than cones in low light.

There are about 125 million rods in the average retina. These get dispersed throughout the majority of the retina.

Cones only exist in a cluster of about 6-7 million cells. They exist solely on the macula, which is at the center of the retina.

In the center of the macula is a slight indent that is entirely made up of cones, called the fovea. Cones are responsible for central vision and detecting color.

They do not work well without light. They function best in well-lit areas or during the daytime.

Retinal Problems

Being such a fragile part of your body, the retina is, of course, susceptible to damage and diseases. It is important to catch retinal issues before they cause permanent damage.

Here are some common retinal conditions to look out for.

Macular degeneration occurs when the macula deteriorates. The exact reasoning of why macular degeneration occurs is still a mystery.

Research shows that certain factors like smoking, diet, and genetics play a role. It destroys central vision, creating a gigantic gap in your eyesight.

There is not currently a cure for macular degeneration, but there are ways you can slow its progress.

A macular hole can form due to an imbalance between the vitreous gel in the eye and the retina. It may also be the result of an injury.

This can cause visual distortion. Macular holes may close themselves but sometimes need surgery.

Diabetic retinopathy occurs because of excessive blood sugar levels. This leads to the blockage of blood vessels in the retina.

These blood vessels weaken and begin to bleed. Symptoms include blurry and fluctuating vision, poor color vision, and floaters.

Left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can lead to other, more severe problems. Managing your diabetes early on can reverse diabetic retinopathy. If it progresses, surgery may become necessary.

Retinal detachment is exactly what it sounds like. The retina can sometimes begin to peel off of the backs of our eyes. This is usually due to the vitreous gel in our eyes shrinking and pulling on the retina as we get older.

A detached retina needs to be treated right away to prevent as much vision loss as possible.

Concerned about retina problems? Schedule an appointment at Washington Eye Physicians & Surgeons in Chevy Chase, MD now!

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