The retina is the delicate lining at the back of the eye, similar to film in a camera. It collects light and uses this to create a picture of the world around us. This information is then sent to the brain which processes the information, allowing us to see.
What the Retina is for
The retina is extremely important; an unhealthy retina cannot send clear signals and this can impair vision. You don’t always experience symptoms if something is wrong, especially in the early stages. The sooner something is picked up and treated, the better the outcome.
As well as eye conditions, general diseases can also be picked up by examining the retina. This is the only part of the body where the blood vessels can be seen directly, meaning that signs of hypertension, diabetes and stroke risks can be picked up.
Examining the Retina
The pupil of the eye is actually a hole in the eye. By looking through it, we can see the retina lining the back of the eye. Traditional methods of viewing the retina are effective, but only allow us to view a small area of the retina at a time. The Optometrist records notes detailing what areas of the retina look like, but there can often be variations between Optometrists regarding the size, severity etc of conditions or areas of concern.
Digital retinal imaging provides a high resolution record of the appearance of the retina and optic nerve. These images can be magnified and digitally processed to reveal fine details and evidence of change that may not be seen with a regular visual inspection. At each visit the images can be compared to images taken at previous visits to reveal any change that may have taken place in the interim. The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” certainly applies in this case.