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Patient Education

At Colorado Retina we understand that your initial appointment with a retina doctor may be a foreign experience. Below are some general patient references to provide you with a better understanding of what we do and why you were referred to see a vitreoretinal specialist. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to give us a call. We are here for you every step of the way.

The Anatomy of the Eye

Diagram of the retina

What is the Retina?

The retina is the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of our eye. Light rays are focused onto the retina through our cornea, pupil and lens. The retina converts the light rays into impulses that travel through the optic nerve to our brain, where they are interpreted as the images we see. The retina is essential for the sharp, central vision we need for reading, driving and seeing fine detail.

The Macula

What is the Macula?

The macula lies in the back of the eye and is the functional center of the retina. It gives us the ability to see 20/20 and provides the best color vision. The macula is the spot in the eye where light is focused by the structures in the front of the eye (cornea & lens). It takes the picture that is sent to the brain, where vision is completed. The macula provides us with the ability to read and see in great detail, whereas the rest of the retina provides peripheral vision.

Of all the different parts of the eye, the macula is where the most important images are created before being sent along the optic nerve to the brain, where vision is completed. The structure of the macula needs to be undisturbed and relatively dry in order for the images to be clear and vision to be good. Macular disease causes central vision loss if not treated, and is connected to diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.

The Vitreous

What is the Vitreous?

The vitreous body is the part of the eye that fills the space in the center of the eye. It is the largest structure within the eye, yet our knowledge of its molecular composition, supramolecular organization, and physiology are perhaps the least of any of the other parts of the eye. When we are young, the vitreous is primarily a watery gel. As we get older, and in nearsighted eyes, the gel liquifies and can cause floaters or retinal tears or detachments.

Learn More About Retina Specialists


Retina specialists (also called vitreoretinal specialists) diagnose and manage a variety of diseases that affect the retina and vitreous in the eye, including macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal vascular disease, retinal detachments and tears, ocular tumors, macular holes and puckers, and several others. Our specialists also treat patients who have experienced severe eye trauma and consult on cases where there are hereditary diseases of the eye.

Total, it takes fourteen plus years to become a vitreoretinal specialist. Each of physicians are board-certified and have followed a demanding educational process within the field of ophthalmology. In order to first become a medical doctor (MD), four years of college and subsequently four years of medical school are required. This is followed by one or more years of an internship in clinical training, and three or more years of residency training in ophthalmology. Following residency, our physicians go through a rigorous fellowship program. Retinal fellowship training involves an additional two years devoted exclusively to their vitreoretinal subspecialty. Post fellowship, a retina specialist will then have to pass their ophthalmology board exam in order to practice. All of these steps are essential in our surgeons training and expertise to be able to provide exceptional vision care.


Retina specialists diagnose a variety of diseases that affect the internal structures of the eye, called the called the retina and the vitreous. Diagnosis is provided through a detailed eye examination using highly technical equipment and testing. Treatment of these vision threatening eye conditions, can vary depending on the diagnosis, but may include: injections, surgery, laser therapy, cryotherapy or anti-VEGF therapy.

Vitreoretinal surgeons work on very delicate tissue in incredibly small spaces of the eye cavity. Microscopes and lasers are vital tools used by retina specialists for procedures in both the office and surgery center settings.


Retinal diseases can affect any part of your retina, the thin layer of tissue on the inside back wall of your eye.The retina is generally protected by the outer eye wall and by its location in the back of the eye. Unfortunately, it can still be damaged, often by its surrounding support structures in the eye. These include degeneration of the pigment layer under the retina or pulling by the vitreous jelly that fills the eye. Different medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension can also affect the blood flow to the retina and lead to vision loss.


An Ophthalmologist — is a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists differ from optometrists and opticians in their levels of training and in what they can diagnose and treat. As a medical doctor who has completed college and at least eight years of additional medical training, an ophthalmologist is licensed to practice medicine and surgery. An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats all forms of eye disease, is able to perform eye surgery, injections and rigorous therapy and prescribe proper medications for treatment.

Optometrists are healthcare professionals who provide primary vision care ranging from sight testing and correction to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision changes. An optometrist is not a medical doctor. An optometrist receives a doctor of optometry (OD) degree after completing four years of optometry school, preceded by three years or more years of college. They are licensed to practice optometry, which primarily involves performing eye exams and vision tests, prescribing and dispensing corrective lenses, detecting certain eye abnormalities, and prescribing medications for certain eye diseases.