Is Pigmentation in Your Retina Important?

The retina plays an essential role in vision function. As the thin tissue that lines the inner surface of the back of the eye, the retina is small but mighty. It communicates directly with the brain by way of the optic nerve to interpret the images you see. The retina contains millions of cells that perceive light, color and fine details. Light enters the eye through the cornea, pupil and lens, ultimately projecting onto the retina. The anatomy of the retina includes photoreceptor cells, macula, fovea, cones, rods and the peripheral retina. The pigmented layer of the retina, the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), is the pigmented cell layer that nourishes retinal visual cells firmly attached to the choroid, the thin layer of tissue between the sclera (the white outer layer of the eye) and the retina.

Is pigmentation in your retina important? While we often think only about the pigmentation or coloring associated with iris of the eye, the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is composed of a single layer of hexagonal cells that is densely packed with pigment granules that included melanin and help to prevent light damage. The role of the RPE is to nourish the delicate nerve tissue of the retina and keep it healthy by secreting hormones, removing dead cells and balancing immune factors. Research suggests that the retinal pigment epithelium is where macular degeneration begins. Degeneration of cones, usually associated with natural aging, is usually the cause of macular degeneration. Macular degeneration causes the loss of central vision. Another progressive eye condition, retinitis pigmentosa, is caused by damaged rods. Both conditions currently do not have a cure and can lead to permanent vision loss or blindness. Retinitis pigmentosa is an inherited, yet rare condition that typically develops in childhood or early adulthood. Retinitis pigmentosa causes cells in the retina to slowly break down over time. It affects peripheral and night vision and eventually leads to total blindness.

The best way to determine the health of your retina is with a comprehensive eye exam that includes retinal imaging. With proper testing, your eye doctor can assess any damage to the structure and function of the retina and provide available treatment options. Your first line of defense against macular degeneration and other retinal diseases is with an eye exam at Retina Consultants of Nevada that you can schedule conveniently by calling 702-369-0200 or visiting our patient contact form here WEBSITE