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Conditions and Treatments

Treating eye and vision conditions

Conditions Treated at the Retina Center at St. Lukes

St. Luke's Retina Center treats a number of conditions, including:

Atrophic macular degeneration – A slow accumulation of deposits in the retina that can cause vision loss.

Background diabetic retinopathy – The first stage of diabetic retinopathy, background diabetic retinopathy is damage to the retina that often occurs with symptoms that are not very noticeable. These symptoms can include small hemorrhages in the retina, small bulges in the capillaries, and deposits in the retina from leaking vessels.

Branch retinal artery occlusion – A progressive loss of peripheral vision that most often is caused by the build-up of plaque or a clot in a carotid artery, or near the heart. In some cases, branch retinal artery occlusion can also cause loss of central vision.

Branch retinal vein occlusion – A condition that usually develops in patients with diabetes or high blood pressure that can lead to a decrease in vision, peripheral vision loss, distortion of vision, or "blind spots". The cause of the condition is a blood clot in a branch retinal vein. 

Central retinal artery occlusion – Often thought of as an “eye stroke,” central retinal artery occlusion is a painless loss of central vision caused by the build up of plaque or a clot in a carotid artery or near the heart. This blockage prevents normal blood flow to the retina.

Central retinal vein occlusion – Sudden but painless visual loss that typically affects patients with glaucoma, high blood pressure, hardened arteries or a blood clot in the central retinal vein.

Choroidal neovascular membrane – Occurs when blood vessels under the choroid (layer of blood vessels and tissue between the retina and the white of the eye) grow through defects in other layers of the retina and leak fluid. This causes blurred vision or vision loss.

Cystoid macular edema – Swelling of the macula caused by disease or injury. With cystoid macular edema, fluid builds up in the layers of the macula, causing distorted vision.

Diabetic macular edema – Swelling of the retina in patients with diabetes due to fluid leaking from blood vessels within the macula. As macular edema progresses, the patient’s central vision becomes blurry.

Dry macular degeneration – The macula is the part of the eye that allows a person to see fine detail. Age-related macular degeneration affects central vision, but not peripheral vision. Dry macular degeneration is a gradual deterioration of the macula.

Hazy posterior capsule (intraocular lens after cataract surgery) – A hazy capsule behind a lens implant. The lens is usually implanted in the eye during cataract surgery.

Hypertensive retinopathy – Hypertensive retinopathy is damage to the retina caused by high blood pressure.

Intraocular pressure – Intraocular pressure is the force that the fluid contained within the eye exerts on the lining of the eyeball. Increased intraocular pressure may be a feature of glaucoma or other conditions.

Macular pucker – Scar tissue that forms on the macula and can cause blurred central vision.

Narrow angle glaucoma – The collection of fluid that pushes the iris forward and blocks the path to which the fluid in the eye usually drains, causing pressure to build up in the eye.

Nevus – A birthmark inside the eye. As with a birthmark on the skin, a nevus in the eye can become malignant.

Peripheral retinal degeneration – The deterioration of peripheral retinal tissue caused by disease, or artery or vein occlusion.

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy – The growth of abnormal blood vessels on or near the optic nerve. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy tends to develop in patients with advanced background diabetic retinopathy.

Retinal detachment – A medical emergency that occurs when the retina is dislodged from its normal position. Symptoms can include flashes of light in the eye, floaters in the field of vision or seeing  a shadow or shade across the field of vision. Without treatment, a retinal detachment can lead to vision loss.

Retinal hemorrhage – Bleeding inside the eye that can cause floaters in the field of vision or vision loss. A retinal hemorrhage can be caused by many things, including diabetic retinopathy, retinal tears and other retinal diseases.

Retinal ischemia – An inadequate supply of blood to the retina.

Retinal tear - A tear in the retinal that usually can be treated with laser prophylaxis to prevent the formation of a retinal detachment.

Wet macular degeneration – The macula is the part of the eye that allows a person to see fine detail. Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels under retina leak and scar the retina. Wet macular degeneration can affect central vision much faster than dry macular degeneration.

Diagnostic Tests at the Retina Center

Fluorescein angiography – A picture of the blood vessels in the retina performed by injecting a special dye, called fluorescein, into a vein in the arm. In just seconds, the dye travels to the blood vessels inside the eye. A digital camera equipped with special filters that highlight the dye is used to photograph the fluorescein as it circulates though the blood vessels in the back of the eye. This allows doctors to check on the health of the retina.

Fundus photography – Pictures of the eye using a fundus camera, a specialized low-power microscope with an attached camera. Fundus photos are used to monitor many eye diseases.

Procedures at the Retina Center at St. Luke’s

Intravitreal LucentisSt. Luke's Hospital is the only hospital in the Lehigh Valley offering this FDA-approved treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration. Intravitreal Lucentis involves the injection of the drug, Lucentis, directly into the vitreous, the clear substance that fills the center of the eye. In multiple studies, Lucentis has been shown to be extremely effective for stopping the progression of wet macular degeneration and improving vision.

Laser Photocoagulation - Laser photocoagulation is a technique employed by retinal surgeons to treat a number of eye conditions including diabetic retinopathy, retinal holes and tears, retinal detachments and some vascular occlusions. Laser light rays are directed into the eye focusing on abnormal blood vessels that are growing beneath the retina. This laser, with the heat from a fine-point laser beam, cauterizes the vessels to seal them from further leakage in the hope of preventing further vision loss.

Yag Laser (capsulotomy and iridotomy) – A Yag laser capsulotomy is a procedure during which a surgeon uses a laser to remove the hazy capsule behind an intraocular lens implant placed during cataract surgery. Meanwhile, during a Yag laser iridotomy, a surgeon uses a laser to make a cut in the iris to treat glaucoma, to make the pupil larger while removing a cataract or to eliminate a blockage in the pupil.