Facts About Retinal Diseases

A healthy retina is essential for good vision. Retinal diseases can affect your central vision and if not treated, may cause partial or total loss of sight.

The three main types of retinal diseases are retinal detachments, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration:

  • retinal detachment
  • diabetic retinopathy
  • age-related macular degeneration


Each type is explained briefly below. For more information, refer to our section on retinal diseases.


Retinal Detachment

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The figure above is a diagram of your eye when you experience retinal detachment. A retinal detachment occurs when the retina separates from its attachments to the underlying eye tissue. If the vitreous gel (a clear gel located in front of the retina) pulls loose from its attachment to the retina, it may cause a tear in the retina allowing the vitreous gel to pass through the tear and accumulate behind the retina. Fluid building up behind the retina causes a separation or detachment from the back of the eye.

Diabetic Retinopathy 

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The figure above demonstrates one type of treatment for diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is the result of changes in the blood vessels of the retina. Blood vessels may swell, leak fluid or grow abnormally on the surface of the retina. Because symptoms are not always noticeable in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, annual retina screenings are recommended to help detect early warning signs and prevent long-term damage.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

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The figure above compares two different types of ARMD. Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is the gradual decline of vision with regards to seeing the fine details of objects. This often affects our ability to read and drive. ARMD may be a slow process that is largely unnoticeable due to small changes over time or may progress aggressively resulting in total loss of vision.