Diagnose My Retinal Photograph: Retinal Hamartoma

4:25 PM

Today's technology driven world is an incredible place.  Not too many years ago, your doctor dilated your eyes to look inside to check for bleeding, holes, tears, and growths.  He or she may have been able to describe to you what they were seeing, but you were left to using your imagination for the most part, even with the use of the best diagrams and artistic renditions.  With retinal photography available at most eyecare providers now, the world inside the eye is a place both your doctor and you as the patient are able to explore.

And let me tell you, it is an amazing world.  Inside the eye I am viewing your actual blood vessels, live, as they are actively moving blood through your body.  I am seeing brain tissue (your retinal cells) and the nerve fiber layer that carries information from those neural cells back deeper into the brain.  I can see damage from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes without ever checking your blood pressure or drawing your blood.  And every now and then, I can see something truly unexpected; a growth inside the eye that no one could ever have known was back there unless they looked.
Retinal Hamartoma
Have you ever had someone tell you their doctor found a brain tumor?  Growths inside the eye can by malignant tumors requiring immediate treatment before they spread to the brain, or they can be benign growths without any complications.  Below is one example of the latter: a retinal hamartoma.  These are benign glial tumors that can occur at random, or be related to systemic conditions like tuberous sclerosis.  They rarely ever require treatment, and in most cases will never grow or change in appearance.  This particular patient's was first discovered in early childhood.  Years of retinal images show complete stability.

Remember, a growth inside your eye may not cause a change in vision unless it is obstructing your central vision area or prohibiting function of the neural tissue.  In those cases, the tumor has a high risk of malignancy.  To find a lesion early, it is best to have this tissue regularly examined.  That's why I can't recommend enough that everyone needs to have an eye examination; not just those of us condemned with poor vision!  Let your doctor show you the world inside the eye with these incredible retinal photographs; it may be you discover something you never would have known was there before any real damage had a chance to occur.

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