We see images because of our retina. This is a thin layer of tissue that circles the back of the eye. This cannot be seen by the naked eye because it’s inside one’s eye, near the optic nerve. Any changes or damage in the retina can only be seen by an optical machine.
Dr. Noel Jusay Lacsamana, ophthalmologist-surgeon in the International Eye Center, compares this to the white meat of a coconut, which lines the inside shell of the coconut.
“This is the sensor of our eyes. It’s like the film of the camera, which processes a picture from the focused light. It receives light, and converts the light to neural signals and these signals are sent to the brain for the images to be recognized by the brain.”
The retina is very important to our vision that any damage could lead to very poor vision or worse, blindness. Detachment of this lining inside the eye can cause loss of vision—this is called retinal detachment.
Diabetes, high-blood pressure and sickle cell anemia can cause damage to the retina. So does direct exposure to the light of the sun, especially when you look directly at the sun during solar eclipses, and when there’s no protection to the eyes when one is using a welding instrument or even laser pointers.
Some drugs or medicines and smoking can also hurt the retina and could lead to blindness. Among these medicines are chloroquine for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, tamoxifen, and thioridazine—but this only happens when these medicines are taken in large doses or if they weren’t prescribed or supervised by a doctor.
Aside from being diabetic or hypertensive, people who are extremely nearsighted could also experience damage in their retina. Other eye disorders like uveitis, lattice degeneration, degenerative myopia or retinoschisis can also cause problems in the retina.
Family history of retinal detachment, eye injury and those who have had poorly done cataract surgery could have this condition, as well.
Lacsamana explained that when a break or tear in the retina happens, the fluid of the eyes can enter the retina and separate it from the pigmented cell layer that nourishes the retina.
A scar tissue on the retina’s surface could contract and cause the retina to separate from the retinal pigment epithelium (pigmented cell layer that nourishes the retina).
Inflammatory disorders and trauma or injury to the eye can also allow fluid to leak into the area under the retina and could cause the retina to detach.
Lacsamana added that when one experiences sudden blurring of vision, sees floaters or dark spots, or when zaps of light appear in his vision, the patient should seek medical help immediately.
The retina can still be saved when the damage is detected early, according to the doctor, who does surgeries in his own eye center in San Fernando, Pampanga. Laser surgery can treat small holes and breaks/tears. The retina could be weld back to place via laser surgery.
There is a big chance that a patient who has retinal detachment can be saved from permanent vision loss. Lacsamana added that it is vital for a patient to immediately see his or her doctor in the event of sudden blurring of vision, having tunnel vision or the appearance of a curtain over the field of vision.
Lacsamana holds clinic and does surgery at the International Eye Center, at the second floor of Robinsons Starmills, San Fernando, Pampanga, every Monday to Saturday. He answers personal queries through his mobile number: 0920-909-9937 or via his Facebook Page: Dr. Noel Jusay Lacsamana.