Retina and Macula

What is the retina?

The retina is a thin layer of light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye, and is essential for vision. This delicate tissue contains a dense network of photoreceptor cells, such as cones and rods, which convert light into electrical signals, allowing the brain to interpret and process visual images. In addition to capturing light, the retina plays a crucial role in colour perception, night vision and peripheral vision, which contributes significantly to our overall understanding of our environment.

What is the macula?

The macula, a small but essential region within the retina, plays a major role in central vision and the perception of fine details. Highly concentrated with specialised photoreceptor cells called cones, the macula enables us to read, recognise faces and perform tasks that require sharp, detailed vision. This area of the retina is crucial for performing everyday activities that require significant visual acuity and precise focus. To understand, it is where the images of what we look at directly come into focus. Everything we see around the focused object is picked up by the rest of the retina.

What is the vitreous humour?

The vitreous humour is a transparent, jelly-like substance that fills the cavity of the eye. It helps to maintain the proper shape and pressure of the eyeball. In addition to providing structural support to the eye, the vitreous humour plays a key role in the transmission of light to the retina and in the proper refraction of light for clear, sharp vision.

What diseases are associated with these areas of the eye?

AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration)

It is a disease that mainly affects older people. It causes a deterioration of the macula that directly affects central vision, so it affects the ability to read, drive and almost any daily activity. The patient’s vision is limited to peripheral vision and the field of vision is progressively reduced. The treatment is focused on stopping the progression of the disease as soon as possible, as the lost vision is difficult to recover. It consists of injecting drugs into the eye. A minimum of 3 injections are performed with a period of 25-30 days between each injection. The procedure is performed under topical anaesthesia (eye drops) and lasts about 5 minutes.

Retinal detachment.

We speak of retinal detachment when there is a separation of the retinal layers. It is usually caused by a tear through which fluid enters, causing the layers to separate. The causes can be diverse, although it is often associated with blows and trauma. The consequence is a marked loss of the visual field.

The only possible treatment is surgical, and is called vitrectomy. It consists of removing the gel that fills the eye (vitreous humour) and repositioning the retina using different surgical techniques depending on each specific case.

Myodesopsia or hoverflies.

These are condensations of vitreous humour that form strands inside the eye. These cast a shadow on the retina that gives the sensation of seeing flies or floating spots in front of us, especially when looking at a clear surface such as a white wall or a blue sky.

The way to eliminate them is by vitrectomy, which is the surgical technique that removes all the gel that makes up the vitreous humour and, therefore, also the condensation that causes the floaters to appear.

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