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A retina specialist is an ophthalmologist who has received special training in conditions which involve the vitreous body and retina of the eye. This subspecialty of ophthalmology is sometimes known as vitreoretinal medicine. Retina specialists treat a wide range of eye conditions, dealing with both adults and children, and they can be found working in hospitals and eye care clinics. The services of a vitreoretinal specialist may be recommended to a patient with an eye condition which cannot be cared for by a general ophthalmologist.
The retina is a light-sensitive area in the back of the eye, and it includes the macula, a structure which appears as a small dot inside the retina. Damage to the retina can lead to blindness or vision interruption such as black spots, floaters, and flashes. The vitreous body is a clear gel which fills the space between the retina and the lens, and it remains consistent throughout life. Both structures can be subject to a number of conditions, including problems caused by trauma to the eye, inherited or congenital conditions, and diseases of the eye which appear later in life.
Some conditions commonly treated by a retina specialist include: age-related macular degeneration, flashes and floaters, diabetic retinopathy, retinal tears, retinoblastoma, retinal detachment, retinitis pigmentosa, and cancers of the eye. A retina specialist may also treat a patient who has experienced severe eye trauma, with the goal of addressing the trauma and repairing or preventing damage to the eye, and he or she may be consulted in the case of a patient dealing with a hereditary disease of the eye.
In order to become a retina specialist, a doctor must complete medical school and training as an ophthalmologist, and then pursue additional vitreoretinal training. He or she will learn how to use medical imaging studies to look into the eye, to take samples of the vitreous body for diagnostic purposes, and how to use various surgical techniques to address conditions of the vitreous body and the retina. Retina specialists also monitor patients with ongoing conditions to determine when action should be taken to address the condition.
People who choose to pursue a career as a retina specialist can enjoy excellent employment prospects and a variety of working environments. Aging populations often experience a variety of vitreoretinal conditions which require the services of a specially-trained ophthalmologist, and compensation tends to be quite good for people who work in the field of ophthalmology.