If your eyes are like a camera, your retina is the film.
The retina is a membrane of light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of your eye. Even though it’s less than a millimeter thick, it contains several intricate, essential layers you may have heard of, including the macula in addition to rods and cones.
The purpose of the retina is to receive the light, shapes, colors and motion that enter through your camera’s lens – the cornea – then translate them into chemical and neural signals for your optic nerve to carry to the visual centers of your brain. Your brain does the work of converting all of this data into images you recognize and see.
No wonder a healthy retina is so important!
When your retina isn’t working optimally, your sight may begin to suffer. Retinal disease can cause reduced vision and even blindness. In fact, retinal diseases are among the leading causes of blindness in American adults.
But keeping your retina healthy and getting early treatment if problems arise can help safeguard your sight. There are several things you can do to protect your retinal health.
First, know your risk factors. Advancing age, a family history of retinal disorders and certain diseases, such as diabetes, are all associated with heightened risk of retinal problems.
Second, be mindful of changes in your vision. Symptoms such as blurred or wavy vision, dark spots, flashing lights or floaters can be signs of retinal disease. Make an appointment with your eye doctor right away if you notice vision changes, especially any that arise suddenly.
And finally, see your ophthalmologist regularly for a comprehensive eye exam; many retinal conditions are treatable if detected and treated early. While you should always see your eye doctor as soon as possible if you experience any change in vision, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends that adults without symptoms or risk factors receive a comprehensive eye exam at age 40, because this is when vision issues often start to arise. From age 40 to 54, eye exams are recommended every two to four years, with the frequency increasing to every one to three years for people aged 55 to 64. For those 65 and older, the AAO recommends complete exams every one to two years. You can make an appointment with your provider at Cheyenne Eye Clinic & Surgery Center here.
Still curious about your retina and how it works? Read more on retinal anatomy.