It may be caused by certain retinal diseases such as Wet Age-related Macular Degeneration (Wet AMD) and Diabetic Macular Edema (DME).
Is your vision affected by blurriness in the center of your vision, blind spots or patches, straight lines that look wavy, or colors that look dull or washed out? You may be experiencing low vision due to certain retinal diseases. This page can educate you about these diseases and help you prepare to see an eye care professional for evaluation.
Symptoms of certain eye diseases may appear suddenly and quickly get worse.
Drag the slider below left and right to learn how these diseases can change how you see the world around you.
If you experience any of these symptoms, see your eye doctor immediately.1-4
Eye Anatomy and Retinal Disease
Maintaining good eye health and tracking changes in your vision starts with understanding the anatomy of your eye.
Your retina is a thin lining at the back of your eye and is necessary for good vision.5 It is made up of light-sensitive nerve tissue that controls how images are viewed. The process of seeing starts when light passes through the front of your eye and is focused on your retina. Your retina then converts this light into electrical impulses that are carried by the optic nerve to the brain, where they are interpreted as images.
Your macula is a small section of the retina near the optic nerve that is an important part of your eye.6 The macula is responsible for sharp central vision, which you need so you can clearly see the details of objects in front of you, such as faces and written text.
Your retina and macula can become injured or diseased, which may in turn affect your vision. Two common retinal diseases are Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Wet AMD) and Diabetic Macular Edema (DME).1,7 Each disease affects the retina and macula in slightly different ways. If you think you may have one of these diseases, see your eye doctor immediately.
Getting the Most from Your Appointment
eye care team
It is important to visit the right eye doctor for your needs. There are different types of eye doctors with distinct roles and skill sets, so refer to the information below before scheduling your next appointment.
You may go to an optometrist for eye exams, vision tests, corrective lenses, and diagnosis of eye diseases. Optometrists can use medications to treat many eye diseases and can make recommendations for lifestyle and nutrition modifications to help support eye health. An optometrist is also known as a Doctor of Optometry (OD).
An ophthalmologist can perform eye exams and vision tests, diagnose and treat eye diseases, and perform surgery.
A retina specialist is an ophthalmologist who has years of specialized training in treating diseases of the retina. Retina specialists treat a wide range of eye conditions and often work in hospitals and eye clinics. If you have Wet AMD or DME, you may need to see a retina specialist to help manage your condition.
In addition to your doctor, the nurses or staff at your doctor’s office can be a great resource for you and can often help talk you through the complex things your doctor explains.
Ask the appointment scheduler if there is anything you need to do before the appointment. One idea is to bring a list of all your medications.
Confirm if you can bring someone with you, such as a spouse, child, or friend.
Make sure you have safe transportation to and from your appointment.
Help protect your eyes after certain exams are performed.
When you go to your eye doctor, he or she will likely review your medical and family history and do a complete eye exam. This visit may include a few different types of exams, such as:
If you’re concerned about your eyesight, talk to your eye care specialist about your vision at your first visit. Don’t leave the appointment without a clear understanding of your test results. And finally, consider asking about the next steps and what you can do.
an Appointment Guide to help you get
the most out of your next visit to
your eye doctor.
Bringing a loved one with you to your appointment can also help you feel less overwhelmed and remember information correctly. If you’re a DME caregiver, you can learn how to better support your loved one here. If you’re a Wet AMD caregiver, learn more here.
Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Wet AMD) and Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) are two common retinal diseases that together affect nearly two million Americans.13,14 If you or a loved one have noticed changes in your vision, read on to learn more, and don’t forget to download the Appointment Guide to prepare for your next eye care appointment.
Wet AMD is a retinal disease that affects the macula and can appear in people as they age.1 Wet AMD happens when there is abnormal growth of and leakage from blood vessels under the macula, hence the disease being called "Wet" AMD.
The good news is there are treatment options that may help protect against vision loss caused by Wet AMD. Make an appointment to speak with your eye doctor today to discuss how you can help protect your vision.
You can also learn more about Wet AMD and potential treatment options here.
DME is a complication of Diabetic Retinopathy, an eye condition that occurs when too much blood sugar damages the blood vessels that supply the retina.7 DME happens when fluid from those damaged blood vessels leaks into the macula, and creates swelling, known as “edema,” that can damage the macula.
The good news is there are treatment options that may help protect against vision loss caused by DME. Make an appointment to speak with your eye doctor today to discuss how you can help protect your vision.
You can also learn more about DME and potential treatment options here.
Stay up to date
on our latest
- Facts about age-related macular degeneration. National Institutes of Health, National Eye Institute Web site. http://bit.ly/1dBK8yC. Accessed November 17, 2017.
- Macular degeneration: understanding your disease – signs & symptoms. BrightFocus Foundation Web site. http://bit.ly/2zR6qcv. Accessed November 17, 2017.
- Diabetic retinopathy. American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS) Web site. http://bit.ly/2hxx41z. Accessed November 17, 2017.
- Macular edema symptoms. American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO EyeSmart) Web site. http://bit.ly/2zMchSu. Accessed November 17, 2017.
- Retinal diseases/health series. American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS) Web site. http://bit.ly/2zJbCkW. Accessed November 17, 2017.
- Glossary. American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS) Web site. http://bit.ly/2ir8QH0. Accessed November 17, 2017.
- Facts about diabetic eye disease. National Institutes of Health, National Eye Institute Web site. http://bit.ly/2j1oO8K. Accessed November 17, 2017.
- What is a doctor of optometry? American Optometric Association. http://bit.ly/2E7ujlp. Accessed December 15, 2017.
- What is an ophthalmologist? American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO EyeSmart) Web site. http://bit.ly/2sdsMAT. Accessed November 17, 2017.
- What is a retina specialist? American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS) Web site. http://bit.ly/2ejH2D3. Accessed November 17, 2017.
- Keeping your eyes healthy: get regular comprehensive dilated eye exams. National Institutes of Health, National Eye Institute Web site. http://bit.ly/1bPE2dh. Accessed November 17, 2017.
- Macular degeneration: understanding your disease – screening & diagnosis. BrightFocus Foundation Web site. http://bit.ly/2jAOsqr. Accessed November 17, 2017.
- Facts about macular edema. National Institutes of Health, National Eye Institute Web site. http://bit.ly/2AUxh7s. Accessed November 17, 2017.
- The eye disease prevalence research group. Prevalence of age-related macular degeneration in the United States. Arch Ophtahlmol. 2004;122:564-572.