Retinal diseases can be associated with aging, diabetes or other diseases, trauma to the eye or family history. Symptoms might include seeing floating specks or cobwebs, blurred vision, distorted vision, defects in the field of vision, lost vision or other problems. To make a diagnosis, your ophthalmologist conducts a thorough eye exam and looks for abnormalities anywhere in the eye. These tests may be done to determine the location and extent of the disease:
- Amsler grid test. Your doctor may use an Amsler grid to test the clarity of your central vision. The doctor will ask you if the lines of the grid seem faded, broken or distorted and will note where the distortion occurs on the grid to better understand the extent of retinal damage.
- Optical coherence tomography (OCT). OCT is an excellent technique for capturing precise images of the retina to diagnose epiretinal membranes, macular holes and macular swelling (edema), to monitor the extent of wet age-related macular degeneration, and to monitor responses to treatment. Details of the cross-sectional anatomy of the retina can be displayed almost at a cellular level.
- Fluorescein angiography. Fluorescein angiography uses a dye that causes blood vessels in the retina to stand out under a special light. This helps to exactly identify leaking blood vessels, new abnormal blood vessels, subtle pigmentation changes in the back of the eye, signs of diabetic retinopathy and other eye disorders.
- Indocyanine green angiography. Indocyanine green angiography uses a dye that lights up when exposed to infrared light, creating images showing retinal blood vessels and the deeper, harder-to-see blood vessels behind the retina in a tissue called the choroid.
- Ultrasound. Ultrasound (ultrasonography) uses high-frequency sound waves to help view the retina and other structures in the eye, helping to distinguish cancerous (malignant) from noncancerous (benign) tumors. Also, an ultrasound can help "see through" a dense cataract or a dense hemorrhage so that your doctor can assess the retina and other structures.