Find Orlando Family Magazine on Facebook! Follow Orlando Family Magazine on Twitter!

Vision Focused

The Florida Retina Institute specializes in treating retinal detachment, a serious eye ailment that can cause permanent vision problems.

The retina is a delicate layer of tissue that is attached to the back of your eye and an integral part of your body’s visual system. However, sometimes your retina can become detached, a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Retinal detachment, which can cause blindness if left untreated, is often induced by a retinal tear for which there are warning signs including seeing a grey curtain or shadow appear in your peripheral vision or experiencing new floaters or flashing lights in your field of vision.

Dr. Alexander C. Barnes, a retina specialist at the Florida Retina Institute who has advanced training in vitreoretinal diseases and surgery, says it’s of the utmost importance that people experiencing these symptoms seek immediate care from their ophthalmologist.

“New flashes, floaters or a curtain coming down are symptoms which should motivate an eye exam,” he says. “Because it can indicate a changing of the vitreous gel in the eye, which can precipitate a retinal tear or detachment.”

At the Florida Retina Institute, doctors are fellowship trained in vitreoretinal diseases and surgery. In addition to treating retinal detachment, the Florida Retina Institute diagnoses and treats other eye disorders such as macular degeneration, retinal vein occlusion, diabetic retinopathy and more. The institute, which has 19 locations throughout Central Florida, North Florida and Southeast Georgia, places an emphasis on continuing education so doctors are up to date on all the latest medical and surgical advancements.

Dr. Barnes is the newest member of Florida Retina Institute’s team of highly-venerated providers. He completed his fellowship in vitreoretinal surgery at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and his ophthalmology residency at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio.

He says he’s happy to be a part of the Florida Retina Institute because he’s able to help patients using cutting-edge technology such as lasers and injections and, when necessary, surgical interventions.

“In the clinic, we are able to help patients through a variety of ways to treat what used to be, in some cases, blinding conditions,” he says. “And in surgery, we do procedures that can have a dramatic impact on a patient’s quality of life.”

Dr. Barnes likens rhegmatogenous retinal detachment to wallpaper becoming unglued over time.

He explains that as we age, the clear gel that sits between the lens and the retina of the eyeball, known as the vitreous, starts to shrink and liquify, pulling on the retina, which can cause a retinal tear. Fluid can enter the tear and lift the retina off the back wall of the eye, ultimately resulting in a retinal detachment.

The emergency situation can be treated with pneumatic retinopexy, scleral buckle, or vitrectomy. Certain characteristics of each eye and detachment determine which procedure would be most appropriate for a given patient.

“Vitrectomy surgery can be intricate,” Dr. Barnes says. “We’re dealing with very thin tissues in the back part of the eye and that can have significant visual consequences. So, it’s important to have somebody who’s experienced and who can manage those problems appropriately.”

Factors that increase a person’s risk for retinal detachment include being nearsighted, having previously had cataract surgery, a prior serious eye injury or a family history of retinal detachment.

However, when caught early, the outlook for a patient is positive.

“If we’re able to treat the retinal detachment when it’s more localized—if it’s not involving the central part of the retina (the macula),” Dr. Banes says, “then the expected visual outcome is better.”

Florida Retina Institute
Multiple locations in Central Florida including Orlando, Kissimmee, Lake Mary and Clermont

877-357-3846 |

This article originally appeared in Orlando Family Magazine’s November 2020 issue.