My optometrist has referred me to a retina specialist. What does a retina specialist do?

Just as there are subspecialties in every area of medicine, the field of ophthalmology is made up of eye doctors who may specialize in a certain part of the eye and diseases and conditions that affect that part of the eye.

What does it mean to be a retina specialist?

A retina specialist is a medical doctor who is specialized in ophthalmology (eye and vision care) and has additional training and expertise in a subspecialty called vitreo-retinal medicine. This sub-specialty includes knowledge and experience with diseases and surgery of the vitreous (the gel-like substance that fills the inside of the eyeball) and the retina (a light-sensitive area at the back of the eye).

Retina specialists are highly trained doctors. They must complete medical school and specialized training in ophthalmology, as well as vitreo-retinal training. Their post-undergraduate work includes:

  • Medical school (4 years)
  • Internship (1 year)
  • Ophthalmology residency (3 years)
  • Retina-vitreous fellowship (1 to 2 years)

What conditions does a retina specialist treat?

Retina specialists treat several conditions related to the retina and the back of the eye, such as:

  • Age-related macular degeneration (a disease associated with aging that gradually destroys the sharp central vision that is needed for seeing objects clearly and for daily tasks)
  • Macular pucker (scar tissue that has formed on the eye’s macula, located in the center of the retina, which can cause blurred and distorted central vision)
  • Diabetic retinopathy (disease of the small blood vessels that nourish the retina, common in those with Type 1 diabetes)
  • Retinal tears and detachment (when the retina begins to pull away from the vitreous, causing flashes and floaters)
  • Endophthalmitis (a rare but severe inflammation affecting the vitreous fluid of the eye)
  • Floaters (at Ophthalmic Consultants of the Capital Region, we offer surgery to remove floaters. Dr. Rabady and Dr. Feldman, both retina specialists, have performed hundreds of these safe and effective procedures to many happy patients.)

If your doctor suspects you are showing symptoms of one of the above conditions, a retina specialist will be able to properly diagnose and treat these, and other, conditions that can severely impact vision if left untreated.

Ophthalmic Consultants of the Capital Region currently has three retinal specialists as a part of our team: Dr. Sax, Dr. Rabady, Dr. Contractor, and Dr. Feldman. Our retina specialists are board-certified retina physicians and surgeons who have the expertise, technology, and experience to treat the most complex retinal diseases and disorders.


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