Vitreoretinal Diseases and Surgery

Appointment New Patient Appointment or 214-645-2020

Vitreoretinal diseases are conditions that affect structures in the eye called the retina and the vitreous. The retina is the light-sensitive layer in the back of the eye that focuses images and transmits that information to the brain via the optic nerve. The vitreous is a clear gel that fills the space between the lens (in the front of the eye) and the retina. 

Expertise in Treating Conditions of the Retina

At UT Southwestern Medical Center, our ophthalmologists have extensive experience in caring for patients with conditions affecting internal structures of the eye. We offer the latest diagnostic technologies and minimally invasive treatments to provide our patients with the best possible results. 

Ophthalmologists in UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Vitreoretinal Diseases and Surgery Program offer patients individualized, leading-edge treatment for diseases that affect the vitreous and retina.

Conditions We Treat

Our program is especially renowned for treating patients who have complicated vitreoretinal conditions, such as:

  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Diabetic retinopathy: Complication of diabetes that damages blood vessels in the retina.
  • Flashes and floaters: Flashes occur when vitreous moves around in the eye and pulls on the retina, creating a flash of light. Floaters occur when small substances form in the vitreous, or from a retinal tear or a hemorrhage .
  • Macular holes: Age-related condition in which the vitreous shrinks and pulls the retina, tearing a hole in a section called the macula (center of the retina where most focus occurs), affecting vision.
  • Macula pucker: A wrinkle in the very small area of the retina that’s responsible for focus, causing distorted vision.
  • Retinal tears or retinal detachments: Tears in the retina or separation of the retina from the back of the eye. Patients experience a sensation like curtains closing in on their peripheral vision.
  • Retinitis pigmentosa: Group of rare genetic disorders that causes cells in both retinas to degenerate, leading to profound vision loss.  Symptoms include a progressive loss of night vision, peripheral vision, and central vision.
  • Retinoblastoma and other types of eye cancer: Almost always diagnosed in infancy or early childhood, retinoblastoma develops from the cells of the retina.
  • Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP): Eye disorder of the retina that primarily affects premature babies. Because the retina is not fully developed, abnormal blood vessels can grow into it, leading to distortion and detachment of the retina.
  • Stargardt disease: Inherited form of macular degeneration that affects young people and impacts focus.
  • Uveitis: Group of inflammatory diseases that causes inflammation of the inside of the eye and can lead to vision loss, eye pain, and blurry vision. It can be acute or chronic, and is usually associated with an underlying condition such as sarcoidosis, shingles, or rheumatoid arthritis.

Treatment for Vitreoretinal Diseases

UT Southwestern eye specialists use the latest diagnostic technologies with on-site imaging in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Frisco, such as:

  • Digital fluorescein angiography: Detailed images that show blood vessels
  • Optical coherence tomography: Cross-sectional images of the retina
  • High-speed indocyanine green (ICG) angiography: Specialized imaging that provides details about “feeder” blood vessels in the choroid and retina
  • Heidelberg retinal tomography: High-resolution 2-D and 3-D images of the retina (back of the eye) and optic nerve head (nerve that sends images to the brain)

Our ophthalmologists are highly skilled at medically and surgically treating conditions of the retina and vitreous. These procedures include:

  • Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) therapy: Medications that treat wet macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and other vascular problems in the eye by reducing blood vessel growth and swelling in the macula area of the retina
  • Cryotherapy: Targeted cold therapy that freezes cells to repair damaged areas
  • Laser therapy: Blade-free procedure using a laser to treat blood vessels in the eye
  • Photodynamic therapy: Procedure that uses a laser along with special light-sensitive medication to seal off abnormal blood vessels in the retina
  • Traditional surgery to repair retinal detachment or tears
  • Vitrectomy: Removal of the vitreous to provide access to areas of the eye for treatment, and replacement with an artificial substance

Appointments - What to Expect

Appointments for retina patients are much longer, and require many more tests, than typical ophthalmic visits. The initial retina patient exam takes approximately two to three hours and usually includes a dilated eye exam and photographic assessment of the retina. This testing is important because it allows the doctor to follow accurately the nerve and blood vessels in the back of the eye.

We strive to accomplish all testing and agreed-upon treatment during one visit. This means patients might spend a little more time with us the day of their appointment, which helps reduce the number of return visits to the clinic.