About the retina

The retina is the nerve layer that lines the back of the eye. It senses light and sends visual messages through the optic nerve to the brain.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the macular region of the retina which is used for straight ahead sight. As the condition progresses, a blurred area near the middle of vision is a common symptom. The blurred area may grow bigger or you may develop blank spots in your vision. Age is the major factor but smoking, ethnicity and family history are also risk factors.

Symptoms include:

  • A progressive decline in the ability to see objects clearly
  • Blurred area near the middle of vision
  • Dark spaces blocking central vision
  • Dimming of colour vision

A detached retina is when the retina is lifted or pulled from its normal position. In some cases there may be small areas of the retina that are torn. These areas, called retinal tears or retinal breaks, can lead to retinal detachment.  If a detached retina is not treated quickly it can cause blindness.  


There are a number of different ways to diagnose diseases and disorders affecting the retina. The treatment will depend upon the nature of the disease or disorder.

There is currently no treatment for dry AMD but there are treatments available for wet AMD that help maintain vision for as long as possible. Injections into the eye are commonly used to treat wet AMD. The earlier macular degeneration is detected, the better are the chances of maintaining useful vision.

Small holes and tears are generally treated with laser surgery while a detached retina is treated with surgery. Most retinal detachment can be successfully treated, although sometimes a second treatment is required.

The final visual result may not be known until a few months after surgery.

Further information

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AAO download) »

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AAO web) »

Cystoid Macular Edema (AAO) »

Diabetic-Retinopathy (AAO) »


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