The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eyeball. Images that come through the eye's lens are focused on the retina. The retina then converts these images to electric signals and sends them along the optic nerve to the brain.
The retina usually looks red or orange because there are many blood vessels right behind it. An ophthalmoscope allows a health care provider to see through your pupil and lens to the retina. Sometimes photos or special scans of the retina can show things that the provider cannot see just by looking at the retina through the ophthalmoscope. If other eye problems block the provider's view of the retina, ultrasound can be used.
Anyone who experiences these vision problems should get a retinal examination:
- Changes in sharpness of vision
- Loss of color perception
- Flashes of light or floaters
- Distorted vision (straight lines look wavy)
Chin EK, Pilli S, Nguyen DH, Park SS. The anatomy and cell biology of the retina. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Foundations of Clinical Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:vol 1;chap 19.
Coleman DJ, Silverman RH, Rondeau MJ, Daly SW, Lloyd HO. Evaluation of the posterior chamber, vitreous, and retina with ultrasound. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:vol 3;chap 3.
Yanoff M, Cameron JD. Diseases of the visual system. Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 423.
Review Date: 5/11/2015
Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.