What are Retinal Eye Emergencies?

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What are Retinal Eye Emergencies?

As suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Ophthalmology, eye doctors should see only patient with urgent emergent eye conditions?

As a retina specialist, we are used to seeing patients everyday with both urgent and emergent eye conditions.  Here are few common diseases we treat daily.

By the way, this article expresses my opinion and how I treat my own patients.  I am not your eye doctor and if you have questions, concerns or are experiencing problems with your vision, please call your own doctor.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Most patients with diabetes will develop some degree of diabetic retinopathy in their lifetime.  The disease progresses very slowly and all patients need to be seen regularly through the year, regardless of symptoms.

If patients are receiving injections or are experiencing new symptoms, your doctor should be aware during this pandemic.  Many offices have closed and are not seeing patients, but the phone lines should remain open.  Trips to the emergency room in this scenario are not going to be helpful.

Patients with new vision loss or distortion or who need injections should call their retina specialist.

New Floaters

The most common cause of new floaters is a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD).  The most common symptoms of a PVD are new onset floaters.  A PVD can cause a retinal tear, possibly leading to a retinal detachment.  A retinal detachment requires surgery and can cause blindness.

While a PVD is not necessarily and emergency, a PVD with possible retinal tear can be.

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration causes loss of central vision with/without distortion.  Patients who experience new blurry vision or distortion should be seen urgently, especially if they are already receiving injections for wet macular degeneration.  The new symptoms could mean active disease and should be examined and treated promptly by your retina specialist.

Complications from Cataract Surgery

I added this for the sake of mentioning that while a retina specialist normally takes care of complications from cataract surgery, there should not be any elective cataract surgery being performed at this time, ergo, this should not be an urgent or emergent eye condition.

Retinal Detachments

Not all retinal detachments are necessarily an emergency, but can be if central vision is spared or lost recently.  The goal of retinal detachment surgery is to repair the detachment before central vision can be jeopardized.