Asia Retina had a hugely successful Retinal Lunch Forum last Saturday with an excellent turnout! Thank you for your overwhelming response. We hope to be able to bring you the next highly-anticipated Forum shortly. In the meantime, here is a summary of our talk: The role our retina plays in various conditions such as Myopia, Diabetes, Hypertension, High cholesterol, Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma and Cataract.

Eye Wellness is state of well-being where our eyes are able to ‘look good’, ‘feel good’ and ‘see well’. Hence, primarily we aim to achieve good vision by preserving our retina for years to come, before we focus on the comfort and aesthetics of our eyes.

Why Our Retina? Did you know that the retina is probably the most critical part of our eye related to our visual pathway? This is because our retina houses our photoreceptors which are the very cells responsible for transmitting images we see to our brain to be processed.

Our Retina alone has 10 complex layers made up of a million photoreceptors such as rods and cones, which enable us to see. Technology today enables us to see these layers in microscopic detail and detect early signs of diseases.

Our Retina has a role to play in myopia, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts.

In Myopia: Due to elongation of our eyeball in myopia, our eyes are stretched out, leaving the retina thinned out. Central retinal thinning may lead to myopic macular atrophy, myopic lacquer cracks and myopic choroidal neovascularization. Central retinal stretching also leads to myopic macular schisis. Peripheral retinal thinning can result in peripheral lattice degeneration with retinal holes, tears, peripheral retinal schisis and retinal detachments.

In Diabetes: Diabetes leads to microvascular abnormalities which may result in microaneurysms, retinal bleeding or macular swelling. Good diabetic control and routine eye checks are recommended to detect these diabetic complications early and treat them before any irreversible visual loss.

In Hypertension and High Cholesterol: Both these conditions lead to atherosclerosis, which is the accumulation of cholesterol plaques and hardening within the blood vessel wall. Atherosclerosis is the major cause of an “Eye Stroke”.

An Eye Stroke happens when the blood vessel is blocked, leading to massive bleeding, macular swelling and vision loss. This can be treated with eye injections. However, prevention is always better than cure. Early signs of hypertension can be detected by careful and meticulous examination of the retina. These can be seen as arterial-venous nicking and copper wiring, or early hemorrhages.

Early signs of high cholesterol also can be seen by formation of plaques in the retinal blood vessels. If you have not had your retina check recently, it may be time to get your retina checked for these early tell-tale signs.

In Macular Degeneration: Our retina may be affected by Age-related Macular Degeneration and other forms of macular degeneration such as epiretinal membranes and macular hole. Diseases of the macula affect our central vision. Hence it is important to get a detailed scan of our macula to detect treatable disease early. The earlier treatment is done, the better visual recovery will be.

In Glaucoma: Glaucoma is characterized by neurodegeneration of our optic nerve due to increased intraocular pressures. In glaucoma, the cells that are affected are the ganglion cells in the retina. In order to monitor the progression or severity of glaucoma, the retinal nerve fiber layer thickness is used as an accurate measurement.

In Cataract: Our eyes are best treated in a holistic manner. Removal of cataract alone will not result in good vision if there is a concurrent epiretinal membrane present. The retina should be checked thoroughly before cataract surgery because removal of cataract and epiretinal membrane may be done at the same time, to avoid a second surgery. Moreover, after successful cataract surgery, some patients may develop macular swelling due to post-surgery inflammation. It is important not to neglect the retina after cataract surgery.