Order Contacts Patient Portal
Buffalo Grove - (847) 459-6060 Barrington - (847) 382-4116
Buffalo Grove

Retina Conditions

Your retina is located at the back of your eye. Although it is a thin, light-sensitive tissue, it packs a punch: it is responsible for controlling how you see images. In an ideal eye, images focus on the retina and those images are converted into electrical impulses that are transmitted through the optic nerve to the brain. It makes sense, then, that any damage to the retina will result in vision problems ranging from blurriness to spots to decreased central vision and even blindness.

Types of Retinal Diseases

There are many different types of retinal diseases including, but not limited to:

  • Macular degeneration
  • Retinal tears or detachment
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Retinal vein occlusion
  • Macular edema
  • Macular holes or puckers
  • Flashes and floaters

Our doctors offer diagnosis and treatment for retinal diseases. The treatment will depend on which part of the retina is affected, how severe the problem is and what is causing the problem. A comprehensive dilated eye exam will help your doctor diagnose the issue and recommend treatment options.

Central Serous Retinopathy

When fluid builds up behind the retina, it can cause the retina to detach from the back of the eye. When this occurs in the central part of the retina, this is called central serous retinopathy.

Symptoms of Central Serous Retinopathy

Central serous retinopathy does not always have obvious symptoms. However, some patients
may experience:

  • Sudden or gradual vision loss
  • Blurry vision in one eye
  • Dark spot in central vision
  • Straight lines appear wavy
  • Dullness in color vision

Risk Factors for Central Serous Retinopathy

Central serous retinopathy typically affects men between the ages of 30 and 50, but women can also develop the condition. Other risk factors include:

  • Aging
  • Stress
  • Medications that cause inflammation such as corticosteroids
  • Caucasian race

While you cannot stop the aging process, lifestyle changes to reduce stress can reduce these risks: getting plenty of sleep, exercising, limiting alcohol and caffeine, etc.

Treatment for Central Serous Retinopathy

Treatment for this condition is not always necessary. The fluid may simply drain on its own. However, this is not a condition that you should self-diagnose or ignore. Regular eye exams will allow your doctor to monitor the condition. If your fluid is being stubborn, your doctor may recommend:

  • Medications (or the halting of medications): anti-vascular endothelial growth factor medications may help prevent fragile blood vessels from forming on the retina; steroid medication use should be stopped
  • Photodynamic therapy: the combination of the drug verteporfin and a cool laser is used to stop the leak and prevent future leaks
  • Thermal laser treatment: performed to seal the leak

Choroidal Nevus

A choroidal nevus is basically a freckle inside your eye. People are not typically born with a choroidal nevus; they can develop over time. They are caused by the clumping of cells called
melanocytes, the melanin pigment that colors our skin, hair and eyes. This is not something that you can see just by looking at your eyes; however, your eye doctor will be able to diagnose and monitor the condition of the eye nevus. In most cases, these are benign and do not need to be treated. However, if it begins leaking fluid, changes to an orange color (they are typically grey/brown/yellow) or begins to thicken, those may be signs that it is a malignant choroidal melanoma.

Symptoms of Choroidal Nevus

If the choroidal nevus is normal, you may not know it is even present until an eye doctor discovers it. However, if it begins to change as noted above, you may begin to experience symptoms such as flashes of light or vision loss. Signs that you have a retinal detachment due to an eye freckle may include:

  • Floaters
  • Flashes
  • Reduced peripheral vision
  • Shadow over your visual field
  • Blurry vision

Treatment for Choroidal Nevus

There is no way to safely remove a choroidal nevus. If your condition turns into choroidal melanoma, your doctor will closely monitor your condition and may recommend radiation therapy. In extreme cases, enucleation (removal of the eye) may be recommended.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics are especially prone to eye disease. Diabetic retinopathy is a common form of diabetic eye disease that has the potential to cause vision loss and blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy affects the blood vessels in the retina (the back of the eye). As these blood vessels become weak or damaged, they leak blood and fluid into the retinal tissue. Because the retina is responsible for converting light into signals that are sent to the brain, any damage to the retina will result in vision problems.

Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy

In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, the retinal blood vessels will begin to swell and leak fluid in small areas. Left undetected, those blood vessels will eventually distort and close, preventing blood from flowing freely. In order to compensate for this lack of blood flow, abnormal blood vessels will actually grow on the inside surface of the retina. These newly formed blood vessels will be fragile and will not supply the retina with the blood flow necessary for healthy vision. They may cause bleeding and scar tissue to form.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

Because this disease typically starts slow, there are usually no symptoms in the early stages. By the time it starts to impact your vision, the disease will be in a later stage of development. Regular eye exams are critical to detecting this disease early so treatment can be administered and vision preserved.

If you are diabetic and are experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact our team immediately:

  • Dark spots
  • Floaters or strings in vision
  • Vision loss
  • Blurry vision
  • Changes in color perception

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy in Illinois

Not all cases of diabetic retinopathy will require treatment. However, if the disease is affecting your vision, we may recommend surgery. The right treatment will depend on the severity of your condition:

Laser treatment: laser burns are performed to stop leaks of fluid and blood or to shrink
abnormal blood vessels
Vitrectomy: blood vessels, blood and scar tissue are removed from the vitreous gel in the eye
Medications: steroids or anti-VEGF injections to reduce the risk of abnormal blood vessel growth may be recommended

You can help reduce your risk for developing or re-developing diabetic retinopathy by living a
healthy lifestyle: exercising regularly and eating fresh, healthy foods.
All diabetics should have regular eye exams to identify the presence of serious eye conditions. Contact us today to schedule a diabetic eye exam.

Flashes and Floaters

Flashes and floaters are related to the clear vitreous gel inside your eye. Over time, the vitreous can clump, thicken or shrink within the eye, leading to interruptions in your vision. These conditions are occurring inside your eye.

Flashes: vitreous gel rubs against your retina or causes a tear in your retina
Floaters: vitreous gel clumps or forms strands that cause shadows to move across your field of vision

Floaters are different from eye gunk that you may clean out of your eyes each morning or throughout the day.

Symptoms of Flashes & Floaters

The symptoms of flashes and floaters can come and go.

  • Dots, lines or cobwebs in your vision
  • Sudden flashes of light, like seeing stars
  • Disturbance in peripheral vision
  • Dark shadow over your vision

Risk Factors for Flashes & Floaters

  • Nearsightedness
  • Previous cataract surgery
  • Inflammation within the eye
  • Eye trauma
  • Aging
  • Migraine headaches

Treatment for Flashes & Floaters in Illinois

These are not typically serious vision problems that require treatment. However, if you experience an abundance of these symptoms, especially all at once, schedule an eye exam right away. It is important to have a doctor monitor your condition to ensure there is no vitreous detachment, retina tear or full retinal detachment. This would signify a medical emergency. A retinal detachment may be treated in any number of ways:

  • Vitrectomy: the vitreous gel in the eye is drained and replaced with a gas bubble to reduce retinal pulling due to the changes in vitreous gel
  • Pneumatic retinopexy: a gas bubble is injected into the vitreous gel to push the tear into proper position on the retinal wall
  • Scleral buckle: a flexible silicone band is placed around the eye to relieve pressure caused by the shrinking and contracting of the vitreous gel
  • Retina laser surgery: the retina is connected back in proper position using tiny burns
  • Cryopexy: intense cold is applied to the retinal tear that produces a scar to reattach the retina

If you are experiencing eye floaters, contact us to schedule a comprehensive eye exam to prevent permanent vision loss.

Geographic Atrophy

Geographic atrophy is an advanced form of dry macular degeneration (AMD) that causes a black spot in central vision.

Reason for Geographic Atrophy

Our eyes need healthy photoreceptor cells (rods and cones) to gather incoming light and transmit images to the brain. In late-stage dry AMD, protein deposits (drusen) forming on the macula (the central part of the retina) clump on the photoreceptor cells and cause them to die. When these photoreceptor cells are lost, central vision is lost. This is a slow process that will also begin to affect the visual cells in the retina.

Symptoms of Geographic Atrophy

  • Difficulty reading in dim lighting situations
  • Central vision loss
  • Black spot in central vision
  • Slower reading speed
  • Glare
  • No change in peripheral vision

Risk Factors for Geographic Atrophy

  • Aging (more frequent in a person’s 70s and 80s)
  • History of smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Light colored iris
  • Genetics

Treatment for Geographic Atrophy

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this condition. Our doctors use auto-fluorescence imaging and high-density optical coherence tomography techniques to monitor the progression of this disease to help protect vision for as long as possible.

Low Vision

Low vision is any type of vision impairment that makes it difficult to perform normal tasks such as reading, driving, cooking, watching television, recognizing faces or shopping. If eyeglasses, medicine or surgery do not improve vision, it becomes necessary to adapt to low vision in Illinois and find ways to maintain as much independence as possible.

Symptoms of Low Vision

If you have low vision, you may experience:

  • Central vision disturbance
  • Peripheral vision disturbance
  • Difficulty with color perception
  • Difficulty with depth perception
  • Blurry, hazy, wavy or distorted vision
  • Inability to see in dim lighting environments

Risk Factors for Low Vision

While anyone can experience low vision, it is more common in older people. Eye trauma, stroke and brain injury can lead to low vision. Certain eye diseases can also increase your risk for low vision:

  • Macular degeneration
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Retinitis pigmentosa

Treatment for Low Vision

If your low vision is caused by an eye disease, there may be treatments to restore some of your eyesight. However, it is possible that you will need to begin a vision rehabilitation program to learn new strategies on how to live your life. Accept the support of your doctors, family and friends to help you through this adjustment period. Be patient: it will take time to get used to these new techniques. It may require a full team of experts to help you along this journey: ophthalmologist, low vision specialist, occupational therapist, rehabilitation teacher, orientation and mobility specialist, social worker or counselor.

Optical Low Vision Aids

Our doctors can help you determine which type of optical low vision aid would best suit your

  • Handheld magnifiers: available in varying strengths and may have a built-in light
  • Magnifying glasses: strong vision aids to help you perform detail-oriented tasks such as reading or needlework hands-free
  • Stand magnifiers: useful for people with arthritis or tremors because they do not have to be held
  • Telescopes: used for seeing faraway objects or signs; they can be hand-held like a pair of regular binoculars or mounted on a pair of glasses
  • Video magnifiers: adjustable, electronic devices that use a camera and video display unit (large or small) to enlarge printed material, pictures or small objects

More Low Vision Resources

There are many products on the market that can help with low vision.

  • Printed materials in large print (books, playing cards, checks, etc.)
  • Technical items with large print (telephones, thermostats, watches, remote controls, etc.)
  • Technical items with sound capabilities (watches, timers, books, blood pressure/blood sugar machines)
  • Magnifying or talking computers
  • Strong light bulbs and handheld bright lights to illuminate your home and your daily tasks
  • Wrap-around sunglasses and hats with wide brims to filter out glare from indoor or outdoor lights

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

There are many vision rehabilitation resources available. Our team would be happy to help you identify local resources to help you along this journey. If you are experiencing any type of vision loss, please contact us to schedule an eye exam today

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of vision loss in the United States. It is a progressive disease that affects the macula, the center part of the retina (the back of the eye).

The light-sensitive retinal tissue controls how you see images: as images focus on the retina, they are converted into electrical impulses that travel to the brain via the optic nerve. If there is damage or deterioration of the macula, your central vision will be disrupted.

Central vision is vital to perform common daily tasks such as reading, driving,
recognizing faces and seeing fine details.

Many older people develop macular degeneration as part of the natural aging process. There are different kinds of macular problems, but the most common is Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). This disease is most common in people over 60, but can appear as early as age 40. If you are over age 60, routine eye exams can diagnose early signs of this degenerative eye disease.

Macular Degeneration Symptoms

Macular degeneration affects central vision, but not typically peripheral vision. In the early
stages you may not have any outward symptoms. As the disease progresses you may

  • Blurriness
  • Dark areas
  • Distortion (typically straight lines or objects appearing wavy or crooked)
  • Permanent loss of central vision

Types of Macular Degeneration

  • Dry Macular Degeneration: accounts for 90% of all cases and progresses slowly. It is caused by the build-up of yellow drusen deposits under the macula that causes the macula to thin and dry out.
  • Wet Macular Degeneration: this is a more serious form that causes severe, rapid vision loss. It occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula. If they leak blood or fluid, this will cause the macula to become distorted

Reasons for Macular Degeneration

Scientists do not know the exact cause of macular degeneration andor why some people develop this disease. Heredity, malnutrition, race, smoking and UV light exposure may play a role in increasing your risk for macular degeneration. It makes sense to follow a healthy lifestyle to help protect your vision:

  • Wear UV protection sunglasses when outdoors
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Stop smoking

Treatment for Macular Degeneration in Illinois

Unfortunately, there is no cure for age-related macular degeneration. However, there are
treatments that can slow the progression of the disease:

  • EYLEA®, Lucentis® or AVASTIN® injections, prescription anti-angiogenic medications to treat Wet AMD by blocking the protein VEGF in the eye in order to slow abnormal blood vessel growth under the macula
  • Anti-angiogenic medication injections to stop new blood vessels from forming or haltmleaking of new blood vessels
  • Laser therapy to destroy abnormal blood vessels
  • AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) vitamin supplements
  • Photodynamic therapy, the combination of the drug verteporfin and a cool laser is used to stop the leak and prevent future leaks
  • Laser photocoagulation to seal leaking blood vessels with a laser
  • Anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) injections to reduce the risk of abnormalm blood vessel growth

Over 200,000 cases of macular degeneration are diagnosed every year in the United States. The condition is estimated to affect 15 million Americans. If you are one of those individuals, you are not alone. Our doctors can perform a comprehensive dilated eye exam to help diagnose your condition and recommend treatment options.

Macular Edema

When fluid builds up behind the macula (the central part of the retina), causing the area to thicken and enlarge, this is called macular edema. Damaged blood vessels are often the reasons why fluid can accumulate in this area. The condition is often associated with diabetics because of the ongoing damage that occurs to the blood vessels in the eyes, resulting in diabetic macular edema.

Symptoms of Macular Edema

  • Wavy central vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Faded color perception
  • Vision loss

Risk Factors for Macular Edema

  • Diabetes/diabetic retinopathy
  • Wet age-related macular degeneration
  • Inflammatory diseases (uveitis)
  • Previous eye surgery
  • Retinal vein occlusion

Treatment for Macular Edema

The right treatment will depend on the root cause and severity of your condition:

  • Medications: steroids or anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) injections to reduce the risk of abnormal blood vessel growth
  • Anti-inflammatory treatments: corticosteroid treatments in the form of eye drops, oral medication or injections may help reduce inflammation
  • Laser treatment: laser burns are performed to stop leaks of fluid and blood or to shrink abnormal blood vessels
  • Vitrectomy: blood vessels, blood and scar tissue are removed from the vitreous gel in the eye

Macular Holes and Puckers

Your macula is the part of your eye that allows you to have central vision. Located in the center of the retina, this collection of nerve cells is the location where the eye focuses on images. If there is any break in the nerve cell fibers, you can develop what is called a macular hole. If scar tissue begins to grow over this same area, it is called a macular pucker.

Symptoms of Macular Holes and Puckers

  • Loss of central vision
  • Distortion of central vision
  • Straight lines appear wavy
  • Gray spot or blind spot in central vision

Macular holes can cause more serious vision problems or vision loss over time than macular puckers. The severity of the hole (partial thickness or full thickness) will have a big impact on your vision. Neither condition is typically associated with pain, but if you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to see an eye doctor to get the condition under control.

Causes of Macular Holes and Puckers

Macular holes are more common in women, especially those over age 60, but they can occur in men as well. A macular pucker can cause a hole to develop. This condition can also be caused by:

  • Diabetic eye disease
  • Detached retina
  • Eye trauma or injury
  • Extreme myopia (nearsightedness)

Your eye is filled with a jelly-like substance called the vitreous. If this substance shrinks, it can detach from the retina surface, leading to the formation of scar tissue. When this occurs on the macula, you develop a macular pucker and your central vision will be disrupted.

Treatment for Macular Holes and Puckers

The common treatment for a macular hole is vitrectomy surgery. During this procedure, doctors remove the vitreous gel from your eye and replace it with an air or gas bubble. The bubble allows the edges of the holes to come together, allowing it to heal. The bubble evaporates naturally and the eye refills itself with its own saline fluid.

Macular puckers often do not require any treatment unless the condition is seriously affecting your vision. If treatment is necessary, the vitreous gel is removed and replaced with a saline solution. Scar tissue can also be removed.

Posterior Vitreous Detachment

Description for this block. Use this space for describing your block. Any text will do. Description for this block. You can use this space for describing your block.

Posterior Vitreous Detachment

Vitreous is a gel-like substance that fills the inside of your eye and attaches to the retina (the back of the eye). It is normal for this vitreous to shrink as you age, causing the millions of tiny fibers inside the vitreous to pull on the retina. If the vitreous pulls away from the retina, this is called a posterior vitreous detachment. This is a common condition in people over age 50, especially if you are nearsighted.

Symptoms of Posterior Vitreous Detachment

There are often no symptoms of a posterior vitreous detachment and it may not affect your vision. However, some people do experience symptoms such as:

  • Flashes of light in your peripheral vision
  • Floaters that look like cobwebs or dark spots in your vision
  • Shadows that dart around your vision

Side Effects of Posterior Vitreous Detachment

A posterior vitreous detachment may not threaten your vision. However, it is possible for this condition to lead to a tear in your retina, retinal detachment or a pucker or hole in your macula (the center of your retina). Any of these conditions will threaten your sight and must be treated immediately. If you experience any of the above symptoms, we recommend you schedule an eye exam right away, just to be on the safe side.

Treatment for Posterior Vitreous Detachment

Your doctor will want to perform regular dilated eye exams to monitor the posterior vitreous detachment and ensure that there is no serious retinal damage. While treatment may not be necessary for a posterior vitreous detachment, your doctor will definitely treat any new condition that develops such as a retinal detachment, macular hole, etc. Our doctors may recommend laser surgery, cryotherapy (freezing), vitrectomy or another treatment.

Retinal Artery Occlusion

The network of arteries in your retina carry oxygen to your nerve cells. Any time there is a
blockage in these arteries (from cholesterol or a blood clot, for example), you could experience vision loss. This is called retinal artery occlusion. Not surprisingly, if the main artery becomes blocked, you will suffer more severe vision loss (central retinal artery occlusion). It is also possible for a smaller artery to become blocked (branch retinal artery occlusion) without your knowledge because there can be little to no visual disturbance.

Symptoms of Retinal Artery Occlusion

It is possible for the blockage to be temporary and go unnoticed, especially because the
condition is usually painless. However, the sudden loss of vision in one eye could signify a more permanent blockage.

Risk Factors for Retinal Artery Occlusion

  • Aging
  • Fatty deposits in the arteries
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy or oral contraceptives
  • Intravenous drug use
  • Carotid artery disease
  • Heart disease, tumors in the heart or abnormal heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Blood clots from the neck artery or heart

Treatment for Retinal Artery Occlusion

While there is no medical treatment for retinal artery occlusion, there are techniques that can be done to dislodge the blockage. These may be effective if they are done very quickly: 4-6 hours after the symptoms start:

  • Inhalation of a mixture of 95% oxygen and 5% carbon dioxide to dilate the retinal arteries
  • Lower the intraocular pressure with medication or the removal of fluid from the front of the eye (paracentesis)
  • Massage of the eye

Retinal Vein Occlusion

Retinal vein occlusion occurs when any of the tiny veins in the retina (the back of the eye)
become blocked, often due to the hardening of your arteries and a blood clot. The blockage can occur in the branch veins or in the main central vein. If blood cannot flow freely from the retina and becomes clogged, this can lead to a build-up of pressure in the blood vessels. If fluid and blood start to leak from the blood vessels, this can damage the retina and affect your vision.

Symptoms of Retinal Vein Occlusion

Some people will not have any symptoms of a retinal vein occlusion; others will experience:

  • Blurry vision
  • Dark spots/lines in vision
  • Sudden permanent blindness
  • Eye pain
  • Peripheral vision loss

By having regular eye exams, your doctor can diagnose this condition early so your eyesight can be protected. Your doctor will examine the back of your eye to assess the health of your retina.

Risk Factors for Retinal Vein Occlusion

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Glaucoma
  • Eye trauma

Treatment for Retinal Vein Occlusion

While there is no medical treatment for retinal vein occlusion, there are techniques that can be
done to stabilize your vision:

  • Injection of an anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) or a steroid to reduce swelling
  • Focal laser therapy to close blood vessels near the center of your retina (the macula) using tiny burns
  • Laser surgery to stop new blood vessels from growing and leaking blood/fluid

Retinopathy of Prematurity

Babies that are born prematurely are at risk of developing a condition called retinopathy of prematurity. The condition disrupts the normal growth of blood vessels on the retina, causing abnormal ones to grow. These fragile blood vessels can leak and create scars on the retina that interfere with vision. The condition can range from mild to severe. Mild cases can often correct naturally, without intervention. More severe cases can cause serious vision impairment or even blindness due to scarring or retinal detachment.

Symptoms of Retinopathy of Prematurity

Because this is a condition that occurs inside the eye, there may be no obvious outward symptoms. If your baby is born prematurely, it is important to have a screening done by an ophthalmologist as soon as possible – even while the child is still in a newborn intensive care unit.

Risk Factors for Retinopathy of Prematurity

Because a baby’s eyes undergo a great deal of development during the last 12 weeks of
pregnancy, premature birth can disrupt this growth pattern, preventing the blood vessel growth from extending toward the edges of the retina and supplying the proper amount of nutrients and oxygen. Therefore, risk factors include:

  • Premature birth
  • Birth weight of 2.75 pounds or less
  • Anemia
  • Respiratory problems
  • Blood transfusions

Having this condition early in life can put patients at higher risk for developing other eye diseases or conditions later in life such as crossed eyes (strabismus), lazy eye (amblyopia), nearsightedness, glaucoma or even retinal detachment.

Treatment for Retinopathy of Prematurity

With the proper medical monitoring and treatment if necessary, most premature infants will not have lasting vision problems. The right treatment will depend on the stage of the condition:

  • Retina laser surgery: the retina is connected back in proper position using tiny burns
  • Cryopexy: intense cold is applied to the retinal tear that produces a scar to reattach the retina
  • Vitrectomy: the vitreous gel in the eye is drained and replaced with a saline solution to reduce retinal pulling due to the changes in vitreous gel
  • Scleral buckle: a flexible silicone band is placed around the eye to relieve pressure caused by the shrinking and contracting of the vitreous gel