What is a Retinal Specialist?

Retina specialists are specialized eye doctors who treat only diseases of the retina.  Ophthalmology is a specialty of medicine/surgery dealing with the diseases of the eye and the surrounding tissues, including the eye lids, eye muscles, eye orbit/socket, optic nerve and the optic tracks as they run from the back of the eye to their final destination in the occipital lobe, in the back of the brain.  Because of the many different aspects necessary for the proper function of the eye, ophthalmology has been divided into a number of subspecialties.  One of these is the specialty of retina.


The Retinal Specialist

The retinal specialist focuses his work on the retina, which is the sensory portion of the eye, the vasculature which supports the retina, and out of necessity, the vitreous which is the jelly material that fills the central cavity of the eye.  The retinal specialist is most often called upon when vision can no longer be improved after appropriate glasses have been prescribed and/or cataract surgery to determine the cause of the persistent decreased vision, or if there is any abnormality noted in the back of the eye on routine eye examination.


When Would a Retinal Specialist be Consulted?

Any condition in which there is decreased vision, which can not be explained by a condition involving the eye lids, cornea, and/or lens, could involve a consultation with a retinal specialist.    Conditions resulting in the clouding of   the vitreous can include vitreous degeneration, bleeding, inflammation/infection, and cancer.  If the center of the back of the eye (the macular) is involved, the most common major problem is macular degeneration. Other macular problems include  hereditary conditions, or the result of a number inflammatory conditions or infections, such as Histoplasmosis, Toxoplasmosis, AIDS, etc.  These conditions may also affect the peripheral retina.  Other conditions which can affect the macula include vitreo-macular traction syndrome, pseudophakic macular edema, macular pucker and macular hole.

Peripheral retinal conditions which would involve a retinal specialist include retinal tears and/or retinal detachments, diabetic retinopathy, hypertensive retinopathy, and tumors (both primary and metastatic), to mention just a few.

Vascular lesions include both arterial and venous occlusive disease, which may be either central or branch, and vascular anomalies.

Ocular trauma often falls into the realm of the retina specialist because there is usually bleeding into the eye with retinal damage.  This type of retinal damage may include giant retinal tears, retinal dialysis, macular swelling, and retinal hemorrhage.  Also when eye trauma occurs there may be a rupture of the globe and/or a foreign body within the eye.

How Do I Find a Retinal Specialist?

Retinal specialists can be located though the Yellow Pages, but it would be best to ask your current eye doctor for a referral.  In that way, you would be referred to a retinal specialist who has a good relationship with your doctor, and together they can best coordinate your care and follow-up.


  1. haydee alvarez says:

    I have a retina detachment,diabetic retinopathy,and 2 surgery for retina detachment and in the first in air bubbel was put,second one oil bubbel is put in my eye,after the first surgery i loos my vission complet,now after the second with oil bubbel I can see but not to good,the Dr said I need to waitt at less 6 momth to a Year,I really scaerd dont know what to do,cut you please help me!!

    • JAbramsMD says:

      Yes, it is very common To have oil in the eye for 6 months after multiple surgeries. I am wondering if you have any optic nerve damage or any other reason for your total loss of vision. I would suggest a second opinion to check your intraocular pressure and to look in the back of the eye to determine if it is worth it to do any more surgeries.

      Is your blood glucose under control? How is your other eye? Again, I would suggest to contact your doctor to address these issues as soon as possible. We are available here at SRI, please feel free to contact me at any time.

      Waldomere Torres
      Vitreo-retinal surgeron
      Sarastoa Retina Institute
      Sarasota Florida

  2. David of Cornwall says:

    A person I know is now in his mid forties. He is near-sighted and his prescription is -6 or -7 dioptres. Three or four years ago he was assaulted by having a Class 3r laser scanner shone in his eyes. His assailant was a hooligan at work who was apparently playing at Star-Trek.

    The operators manual for these bar-code pistols does state “Never point the scanner at anyone as permanent eye damage may result.” Now I’m not a doctor I’m a retired Communications Scientific & Technical Officer from a government department. OK the man is by no means blind but he says that his vision has been impaired by the laser. The problem is that unlike, say, a broken leg, the injury is covert. He has flown the Atlantic twice in the hope of finding an ophthalmologist who will back up his claim of an eye injury. Unfortunately he has just been given the run-around.

    One hospital in Europe had a million dollar Adaptive Optics Camera. When this camera was used to examine his eyes he heard the operator mutter “scarring”. The next thing that happened was that the camera operator claimed that the camera was faulty and out of order! How can a million dollar camera not work?

    Basically it would appear that no one wishes to get involved in litigation.

    I would guess that a really high resolution camera such as the million dollar one needs to be used but such cameras are quite rare.

    Does anyone have any useful suggestions?

  3. I was wondering if anyone could explain mild viritis to me… My doctor didnt explain it to me so now Im afraid

  4. My symptoms began about 5 months into my twins pregnancies, my vision began to blur and I started getting large floaters and flashes of light. Since my blood pressure was a little on the high side my obgyn was not extremely concerned. I also noticed a gradual chance in my hearing ability, things began to sound jumbled. My babies are now 8 months old and my symptoms are worse I have now lost most of my peripheral vision. I went to have my eyes checked and I have a slight astigmatism that can be corrected by glasses but when the Dr. dilated my eyes he said he had never seen anything like it. He said my retinas were shriveled and it looked like something was pulling on them. He referred me to a retinal specialist. I am awaiting my appointment eagerly but freaking out in the mean time. I am 31 years old and have never had an major health issues so it is a little scary losing my vision at such a young age and in conjunction with the hearing loss. I am just wondering if any one else has had any of these symptoms and if so what was the end result?

    • Jody Abrams, M.D. says:

      Did the eye doctor mention anything about the optic nerves being swollen? I have seen many patients who developed pseudotumor cerebri during pregnancy. This can cause peripheral vision loss, and hearing problems. It often is accompanied by headaches but not always. Have you had a scan (mri or ct) of your head?
      There are some retinal vascular problems that can occur and cause retinal problems, and can be seen with pregnancy. Did you have any other medical problems prior to or after pregnancy? How are the twins?
      I am sorry not to have a specific answer but there are a lot of possibilities here and a little more information if you have it will help.

      Jody Abrams, MD
      Sarasota Retina Institute
      Sarasota, Florida


  1. […] you notice new floaters you should call your eye doctor and schedule an appointment to be seen. During this appointment the doctor will dilate you and look […]

  2. […] Light flashes due to vitreous degeneration are characteristically seen in the far peripheral visual field and last less than a second and may be repetitive, but not continuous.  They are arcuate in configuration, and they are often associated with either head or eye movement.  Because of their low intensity they are observed only in the dark or subdued lighting.  (see Floaters and Light Flashes) These symptoms need to be evaluated by an eye doctor, often a retina specialist. […]

  3. […] Even though you might not have diabetes or macular degeneration, if you are near sighted you might need normal exams with a retinal specialist. […]

  4. […] vitreal injection or injections into the eye are everyday procedures in the armamentarium of our retinal doctors for  conditions as retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy, inflammation and age related macular […]

  5. […] vitrectomy is an ophthalmologic surgery preformed by a retinal surgeon to remove the vitreous (the jelly in the back of the eye). The surgery was introduced by Dr. […]