What is Retinal Detachment?
Retinal Detachment is a very serious condition that occurs when the retina pulls away from its supporting tissue. This is often caused by injury or Diabetic Retinopathy and can cause permanent vision loss if it is not repaired quickly. Immediate emergency eye care attention is required.
Some risk factors may include
- family history
- cataract surgery
- extreme nearsightedness
- Ages of 65 or older
Retinal Detachments are often treated by a laser. Each case is treated individually depending upon complexity and location of the detachment.
What causes Retinal Detachment?
Detachments can be caused by the vitreous gel in the center of the eye pulling away from its attachment to the retina in the back of the eye. Usually when the vitreous separates from the retina it doesn’t cause problems, but sometimes it pulls hard enough to tear the retina. When this happens, fluid may pass through the retinal tear, lifting the retina off the back of the eye.
These conditions increase the chances of having a retinal detachment:
- Previous cataract surgery
- Severe injury
- Previous retinal detachment in your other eye
- Family history of retinal detachment
- Wear areas in your retina that can be seen by your eye doctor.
Warning symptoms of retinal detachment are:
- Flashing lights
- New floaters
- A shadow in the side of your field of vision
- A gray curtain moving across your field of vision
Treatment for Detached Retina
Most retinal tears can be treated with laser surgery or cryotherapy (freezing) to seal the retina back against the wall of the eye. These treatments can be performed in your ophthalmologist’s office.
Almost all retinal detachments require surgery to reaffix the retina into its proper position. One method is to place a flexible band called a scleral buckle around the eye. In a procedure called pneumatic retinopexy a gas bubble in injected into the vitreous space inside the eye. The bubble pushes the retinal tear closed against the back of the eye. In a vitrectomy, the vitreous gel which is pulling on the retina, is removed from the eye and is usually replaced with a gas bubble. Your body’s own fluids will gradually replace the gas bubble.
It may take months for vision to prove after surgery for a detached retina. In general, the worse the detachment, the less vision may return. That is why it’s extremely important to an ophthalmologist at the first sign of any of the above symptoms.