Eye specialists always state that a healthy retina is necessary for good vision. Ophthalmologists examine retinas during yearly exams by dilating the pupil and using a special magnify lens to inspect the health of the retina. In cases in which a condition is discovered in the patient’s eye, ophthalmologists will often send their patient to a retina specialist. Most people have never heard of a retina surgeon or specialist and are unaware of the common conditions of the retina. How are retinal specialists different from ophthalmologists? How are they trained? When do you need to see a retina surgeon?
How Retina Surgeons are trained
Retina surgeons are highly trained professionals who specialize in analyzing and treating retina conditions. According to the American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRA), a retina specialist will have:
- Four years of medical school
- One year of an internship
- Three years of ophthalmology residency
- One to two years of a Retina-Vitreous fellowship
Retinal surgery is not only a mastership of the retina, but also the vitreous body of the eye and this is considered a subspecialty of ophthalmology. A retinal surgeon must be an expert of not only the general branch of ophthalmology, but also in vitreoretinal medicine.
What Retinal Surgeons Do
Retinal specialists work in both clinics and hospitals and on adults and children. A retinal surgeon is highly trained in the equipment and technology used in their field in order to treat multiple types of retina conditions. Equipment used ranges from lasers to microscopes and other tools designed for usage in the small space of an eye cavity.
When to See a Retinal Surgeon
Patients who have issues with their retinas should be advised by their ophthalmologist to seek a retina specialist. A retinal surgeon and specialist can help treat conditions and diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, macular hole/pucker, retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy, and many other retina related issues. A specialist can also recommend a clinic trial, if appropriate, for a patient. Clinical trials allow for major medical advances in the field of retina health. Clinical trials are available for the most common retinal diseases.
According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), about two million Americans over the age of 40 suffer from retina conditions such as age-related macular degeneration. About seven million Americans suffer from diabetic retinopathy, which according to the NEI, is the leading cause of blindness and the most common diabetic eye disease. For these issues and more, a retinal specialist can help find a solution to prevent detrimental and debilitating consequences of a retina disease. When it comes to the common diseases and conditions of the retina, most ophthalmologists will opt to recommend their patients to a retina specialist.