When to See a Retina Specialist

My husband had a recent eye incident where he suddenly saw a large increase in floaters and experienced lots of flashes. We called his ophthalmologist who was able to see him right away. He was diagnosed with a post-vitreous detachment (PVD) AND an operculated retina hole.

Retina Hole

You are probably wondering what is that and so was my husband. There are several different types of retinal tears caused by a PVD. An operculated hole is one of them. These holes are commonly caused by the vitreous pulling on the retina where the fibers are strongly attached and often occur with a PVD.

Operculated Hole

The small section or piece of tissue that pulls or tears away from the retina is called an operculum. The tear will leave a retinal hole that has the potential to become a more serious retinal detachment. Those with a retinal break are at a higher risk of having a retinal detachment - which is when some of the vitreous gets in through the hole or tear and lifts or detaches the retina. The result can be a partial or complete loss of vision in that eye.

I've seen some statistics that state up to 15% of patients with an acute PVD have at least one retinal break - my husband was one of these statistics. The strongest attachment of the vitreous fibers to the retina are at the base of the vitreous or in the periphery of the retina - unlike a macular degeneration hole that is in the center of the retina. Fortunatley, my husband's retinal hole was at the base.

Retina Doctor

The ophthalmologist wanted my husband to be checked by a retina doctor to see if the hole required any treatment. Some retinal holes need to be treated or sealed by a laser procedure. The retina doctor confirmed that he did indeed have an operculated retina hole and that it was at the base of the vitreous.

Most often there is no need for treatment, but there is a need to have it monitored. A week later my husband was checked again and was told that the hole had sealed and closed up on its own. It was a relief to me and to my husband to have confirmation from a retina doctor.

Many of you who are regular readers of Macular Degeneration News most likely have or know someone with macular degeneration - which involves a tiny spot in the retina responsible for our straight ahead and sharp vision. The specialists who see and treat AMD are retina doctors. These doctors specialize in diseases of the retina. This is the type of doctor who should be providing you with treatment recommendations and monitoring your vision.

To learn how a retina specialist is different from a general ophthalmologist or an optometrist and how to find one click here:

Eye Care Professionals

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Leslie Degner, RN, BSN

Better Health for Better Vision